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SCCF: Nesting seasons begin for sea turtles and snowy plovers

May 9, 2014
Special to the Reporter ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The beginning of sea turtle nesting season in Southwest Florida is upon us once again. This year, SCCF welcomes new Sea Turtle Coordinator Kelly Sloan, who joined SCCF in December 2013. Sloan brings six years of experience, having worked as a sea turtle biologist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Although May 1 marks the "official" start of nesting season, in recent years sea turtles have started nesting at the end of April. All sea turtle species are listed and protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. As nesting season gets underway on the islands, you can help provide a safe beach for nesting and hatching sea turtles by keeping the following tips in mind:

* Shield or turn off lights near the beach

Article Photos

Pictured from the left, CROW staffers, Red Anders and SCCF Sea Turtle Coordinator Kelly Sloan preparing to release a green sea turtle after treatment at CROW. PHOTO PROVIDED.

* Take all beach furniture, tents, and umbrellas off the beach with you

* Fill any holes you dig

* Do not approach or disturb nesting turtles

* Never take a flash photo of a sea turtle

* Limit your use of flashlights on the beach at night. If you see a sea turtle, turn the flashlight off immediately.

* Pick up trash on the beach, especially plastic

* Honor the pet leash law

For more information on the sea turtles that nest and hatch on our beaches, visit the SCCF Nature Center for our Turtle Tracks education program.

As of Thursday, April 24, there were six snowy plover nests on Sanibel. There was a seventh but it was lost due to human interference.

SCCF coordinates the monitoring of snowy plover nesting on Sanibel. Snowy plovers nest on the beach and SCCF stakes protective exclosures around snowy plover nests. Please do not enter the staked exclosures and keep dogs out. When snowy plovers are not moving, they are extremely well camouflaged. If a snowy plover is flushed from its nest, it takes very little time for the hot sun to damage the eggs.

The snowy plover is a state-listed, threatened species on Sanibel. The most recent estimate indicates that around 200 pairs of snowy plovers remain along the west coast of Florida, from the Panhandle through Cape Sable. Snowy plover nesting season runs through August, and they can nest two or three times in one season.

You can learn more about snowy plovers at our weekly program offered every other Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at SCCF's Nature Center on 3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road, or visit SCCF's web site at

SCCF (the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed through environmental education, land acquisition, landscaping for wildlife, marine research, natural resource policy, sea turtle conservation and wildlife habitat management.

As part of the SCCF Marine Laboratory's work, real-time water quality data from the SCCF RECON (River, Estuary & Coastal Observing Network) sensors can be found at Community support through membership dues and tax-deductible contributions makes this work possible.



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