Friday, July 23, 2010

Sea Turtle Nests Moved from Northwest Florida to Our Area

A loggerhead hatchling begins its journey to the ocean (FWC photo)

Sea turtle nests in several counties in Northwest Florida are being (and have been) relocated to the east coast in the hope the sea turtle hatchlings will have a better chance of surviving. This is an unprecedented event led by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners in order to keep sea turtle hatchlings from coming into contact with the oil from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Normally sea turtle hatchlings face many obstacles and challenges when they leave the nest, make their way to the water, and start their lives in the ocean. They face predators, currents, searching for food, and many other difficulties. But one obstacle they have to face this year is the oil. The oil products can cause problems for the hatchlings on the beach but more than likely currents could carry them straight into the floating oil, which would certainly cause death. So sea turtle experts from FWC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service have come up with a plan to relocate nests to the the Cape Canaveral area where, once they hatch, they'll be released onto area beaches. This is very risky and is only being considered because of these particular circumstances. Recently NASA released video of some of those sea turtle hatchlings from Northwest Florida being released on July 11th. They want to disturb the nests and hatchlings as little as possible and no one knows really what the consequences are of releasing the hatchlings in an area that's different from where they were laid. Female sea turtles always return to the same beach where they were born but the mechanism that sea turtle's use to locate that beach is unknown. So it's unclear if these hatchlings will return to the beach where they were released or where their mother laid the eggs. Even with these unknowns it's clear that without this relocation plan, those hatchlings would have less of a chance of survival if they had to deal with the oil. For more information on the plan to relocated Northwest Florida sea turtle eggs, go to For more information on sea turtle conservation, visit Also be sure to check out our local Sea Turtle Preservation Society and learn more about their efforts with turtles along our beaches.