There are five different species of turtles that visit Florida’s beaches: loggerhead, green turtle, leatherback, hawksbill, and Kemp’s ridley. Here on the Stuart, Jupiter/Juno and Singer Island area beaches we are fortunate to observe loggerhead, green turtle and leatherback turtle nesting sites. A sea turtle’s life is challenging from the start. It takes decades to reach maturity. After mating at sea, the female returns to land. She will make one to eight nests per season. The nesting female will haul herself up onto the beach, generally at night, find suitable sand, and using her hind flippers dig a circular hole 16 to 20 inches deep. She will lay soft-shelled eggs one by one until she has deposited all of her eggs (between 50 – 200 eggs depending on the species) and then recover with sand so the nest is almost undetectable. She then returns to the ocean, leaving the eggs unattended.
The new little hatchlings now have quite the challenge! Dodge the hungry birds, curious humans, navigate liter on the beach, find their way to the ocean, avoid the scorching sun…then if they make it – outwit predators in ocean. Please do not disturb or touch a sea turtle or its nesting ground.
It is easy to understand how all five of these species are either endangered or threatened. Please do your part…help keep our coast clear and to find other ways to protect sea turtles check out Sea Turtle Conservancy or visit Loggerhead Marinelife Center.