It's Loggerhead Turtle Nesting Season
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) has the responsibility for the turtle nesting program in our county. The adult females come ashore at night May through August to make their nests on the same beach they were born. She will deposit approximately 100 ping-pong ball sized eggs.
If you see a nesting adult female on the beach turn off your flashlight, be quiet, and keep your distance or she may abandon her nest making. Do not leave any beach furniture, canopies or umbrellas overnight which may deter the female from laying her eggs.
The egg's incubation period is about 50 days. The stakes posted around the nest are marked with the date the nest was laid. After the 50 days CMA will place a cage over the nest opening and volunteers will start monitoring at that time. July through October the nests hatch. Hatchlings, in a natural environment, are instinctively drawn to the light on the horizon. Trained CMA volunteers release the hatchlings from the cages and guide them into the Gulf so they do not head toward the lights of condos and hotels.
If you are observing a nest at night do not bring cameras or flashlights around the nest as it can affect the hatching, disorient the hatchlings, and alter the volunteer's night vision. CMA volunteers have infrared lights that are not as distracting but these are kept to a minimum as well.
Volunteers released 107 nests in 2008 on Pinellas beaches and have already discovered nearly 60 this year. This puts them on track for a record year. There are currently nine nests on Sand Key but that number grows steadily.
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