Brevard County, Florida: Best Sea Turtle Nesting Site!

Loggerhead Sea Turtle at Florida Aquarium

Sea Turtle Species in Brevard County, Florida (poster at Barrier Island Sanctuary)

Sea Turtle Migration Map

Sea Turtle Migration Map

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Laying Eggs (poster at Barrier Island Sanctuary)

Unhatched Sea Turtle Egg Washed Out onto Sebastian Beach by Tropical Storm

Mother Loggerhead Sea Turtle Returning to Sea after Egg-Laying (taken without flash or lights during a guided sea turtle walk)

Sea Turtle Tracks at Sebastian Beach

Marked Sea Turtle Nest at Canaveral National Seashore

Sea Turtle Hatchling at Sebastian Beach

Sea Turtle Hatchling at Sebastian Beach

Rehabilitated Sea Turtle Ready for Release

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Swimming Beside Jetty Park Pier

We  live only 5 miles (as the crow flies) from the best loggerhead sea turtle  nesting beach in the Western hemisphere, and the second best in the world!   Nesting totals so far this year at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in  Brevard/Indian River Counties are as follows:  11,841 recorded loggerhead nests, 962  endangered green turtle nests, and 49 endangered leatherback nests (these  massive turtles can weigh a ton).  Nesting density here between Melbourne and Wabasso can reach up to 1,000 nests per mile!

Female loggerheads reach maturity at 35 years of age.  At that point she will begin laying 4  egg clutches per season every 2 or 3 years on the same beach where she was  born.  Each nest will contain 100-125  soft rubbery eggs that look like ping-pong balls.  She will haul herself onto the beach at  night to begin the long process of laying her eggs (it can take hours).  She must never be disturbed while  nesting, because otherwise she will abandon her nest and drop her eggs in the  ocean.  Special guided sea turtle  walks are permitted under strict supervision and can be scheduled in June and  July in Brevard County at:  http://www.seaturtlespacecoast.org/turtlewalkregistration.html   and   https://conserveturtles.org/barrier-island-center-educational-programs/                

Sea  turtle flipper tracks look like tire treads and are easy to spot on the beach  during the day.  A guide to flipper tracks is at:  http://myfwc.com/media/3055670/crawlidentificationguidelines.pdf  These distinctive tracks help scientists mark  and protect the nests.  Hatchlings  emerge about 2 months after egg-laying.  Gender is a function of temperature – the warmer the sand, the more  likely the eggs will become female.  In general the baby sea turtles emerge from the sand at night and head  toward the sea’s bright horizon.  No  distracting lights of any kind are permitted on the beaches here at night in  summer  – it keeps the baby turtles safe.  After reaching the water, the baby  turtles spend the first few years living in the relative safety of the seaweed  in the Sargasso Sea.  Later they spend time in near-shore waters and on migration in the Atlantic Ocean. 

When needed, the Sea Turtle Preservation Society performs local sea  turtle rescue and rehabilitation.  For rescue 24/7 call 321-206-0646 and someone will call you back:  http://www.seaturtlespacecoast.org/emergency.html    

Detailed loggerhead sea turtle information is at:  http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/loggerhead.html

Kids’ info is at:  http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/education/kids_times_turtle_loggerhead.pdf

And  an especially interesting color night-vision time-lapse video of nesting sea  turtles in Florida is at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Yqx24Qqx5M

2015 UPDATE:  Totals and statistics for the 20 miles of beach in southern Brevard County’s Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge for the 2015 sea turtle nesting season include the following:  (1) first nest was April 13;  (2) last nest was September 20;  (3) highest number of nests on one day was 264; (4) total number of nests was 11,541; (5) estimated number of eggs laid was 1,248,051 (!); and (6) estimated number of hatchlings reaching the ocean was 1,008,828.  Wow! 

2016 UPDATE:  Final sea turtle nesting totals at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge on August 27, 2016 were:  Loggerhead – 20,376; Green – 1,295; Leatherback – 72, and Kemp’s Ridley – 1.

About Pam
Richard and Pam lived in the San Francisco Bay Area 14 years (1987-1999 and 2008-2011). They lived in Florida 13 years previously, until returning in July 2011 to present. They hope their photography will encourage you to get out and discover nature's beauty in your own backyard, parks, and wild places. Click on any pictures on this blog to see them full size with additional details.

5 Responses to Brevard County, Florida: Best Sea Turtle Nesting Site!

  1. FeyGirl says:

    How wonderful for you to live nearby! We’re about a half-hour away from a major site (MacArthur), and have been on a few visits. I adore turtles — we often visited with them when I lived in the South Pacific. We need to do more to help them — MUCH more. I’m forever grateful for those who devote so much time, love, and energy to helping these amazing animals and their disappearing nesting sites. ♥

    • Pam says:

      Turtles are a favorite! Diver friends always love it when a turtle swims by. Last year was a record number of Green and Leatherback nests here, and loggerhead nests are doing very well this year.

  2. Very interesting. You are so blessed to live that close to such a fantastic area.

    • Pam says:

      Yes, we feel very lucky. And we love to share nature’s bounty here with others! We have a birding festival in winter that brings people here from all over the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: