On March 1, 2021, EAI began daily, ongoing sea turtle nesting surveys on approximately 50 miles of high-density sea turtle nesting beaches along Florida’s east coast. We monitor beaches in Volusia, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and Palm Beach Counties. This year, in support of several beach nourishment projects, we’ve conducted nesting surveys in Miami-Dade County. EAI also completed sea turtle nesting surveys in Harrison County, Mississippi and migratory shorebird surveys in Broward County, Florida.
As of July 10, 2021, EAI’s team has documented 9,687 loggerhead, 1,106 green turtle, and 344 leatherback nests across survey areas. The first nest of the season was a leatherback nest on February 19th on Hutchinson Island, which hatched in May. Long-term nesting trends observed in EAI’s survey areas are consistent with statewide patterns.
After a year of social distancing, EAI resumed hosting Turtle Walks; our last one took place July 20th. Guided by our knowledgeable staff, Turtle Walk participants observed a female loggerhead turtle nesting on Hutchinson Island.
The first Public Excavation program in Palm Beach County occurred July 9th, and the first for Martin County was July 16th. The EAI team monitors each nest, excavates the contents, and inventories the hatched eggs. Over 1,000 people, both in person and virtually, have observed our staff perform these permitted excavations.
During the nesting season, you can help sea turtles and their hatchlings by reducing artificial light, removing furniture and other items from the beach before night, filling in holes, and knocking down sandcastles. We are entering the peak of hatching season, and hatchlings have a finite amount of energy once they have emerged. We must make sure their path to the water is unobstructed by man-made structures and that artificial lights do not sidetrack them. Please do not handle sea turtles, hatchlings, or eggs, and leave any sea turtle crawl you see on the beach undisturbed.
EAI responds to stranded sea turtles throughout the year. Unfortunately, the EAI stranding team commonly observes boat and fishing-related injuries. Being mindful when you are around the water can reduce the negative impacts humans can have on turtles. Please report any sea turtle strandings to Florida Fish and Wildlife: 1-888-404-3922.