Over the past month, the number of sea turtle nests on Siesta Key beaches has increased significantly, according to data from Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. The total number of sea turtle nests increased by 333%, from 18 nests on May 18th to 60 total nests on June 23rd. Of the 60 nests, 59 are loggerhead nest and one is a green sea turtle nest.
Mote began monitoring Sarasota beaches on April 15th. Mote has been monitoring sea turtle nesting activity for 39 years and over 300 volunteers help Mote’s team of biologists and interns with daily monitoring of beaches.
This year presented a unique challenge as monitoring began in the midst of the beach closures due to COVID-19. However, all monitoring was conducted with permission from local government to allow access to closed beaches, and Mote sea turtle patrol conducted all activities with a heightened awareness for social distancing and cleaning procedures.
The beaches of the west coast of Florida are the most popular for loggerhead turtle nesting. Though the numbers are significantly smaller, the number of green sea turtle nests in Sarasota has increased over the past 20 years, according to Mote.
In 2019, Mote documented 5,112 nests, a record breaking year. In fact, the top three years for number of sea turtle nests in the Sarasota region have occurred over the past five years.