Sea turtle nesting season underway with sighting in Venice

Sea turtle nesting season underway with sighting in Venice
A loggerhead sea turtle hatchling (Source: N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher)

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Suncoast’s first loggerhead sea turtle nest of the season has been documented in Venice, researchers say.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program says the nest was spotted Thursday, just north of the public Venice Beach area.

Mote began monitoring Sarasota area beaches April 15, and volunteers saw the telltale signs of a nest during their patrol early Thursday morning. Turtle tracks, called a crawl, were seen leading from the water up to a nest, and other clues in the sand were used to identify the nest itself and the species that created the nest.

Veteran volunteers Peg Magee and Joyce Thompson found the nest and placed stakes to mark the nest, Mote said.

Sarasota County is home to the densest loggerhead sea turtle nesting in the Gulf of Mexico. Green sea turtles nest on area beaches as well, often arriving later in the season, and although relatively low in number, the program at Mote has documented an increase in green sea turtle nests in Sarasota in the last 20 years. 

Other signs of sea turtles locally also include a loggerhead false crawl — where a female comes onto the beach and leaves without creating a nest — the day before on Siesta Key.

“Once again, sea turtles have arrived on our beaches a little bit before the official start of season,” said Melissa Bernhard, Mote Senior Biologist and Conservation Manager. “We’re looking forward to another successful season.”

 Mote’s 35th annual Run for the Turtles event, virtual this year, is also underway. Participants can run, walk or crawl from anywhere in the world, now through June 30th, to support Mote’s sea turtle monitoring efforts. Information and registration is available at mote.org/run.

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