Green sea turtle nesting breaks local record, loggerhead nesting looks strong on Longboat Key through Venice
Above: A green sea turtle hatchling makes its way to the ocean. (Photo credit: Marc Ellis, H2O pictures) Below: A loggerhead sea turtle hatchling on Longboat Key makes its way to the ocean. Video taken during the summer of 2015. (Video credit: Mote Marine Laboratory.)
Hatchlings sometimes emerge in early morning, as shown above, but typically they emerge at night and use dim natural light to find the sea. It’s important to keep beaches dark and clear of obstacles through the end of nesting season, Oct. 31.
Mote Marine Laboratory scientists are excited to share the encouraging, preliminary results of their annual count of Southwest Florida sea turtle nests.
During the 2015 nesting season that began May 1, Mote-monitored beaches from Longboat Key through Venice have hosted a record number of green sea turtle nests and potentially tied their past combined record for greens and loggerheads.
This year’s record for green turtles is confirmed, but loggerhead numbers and the grand total must be confirmed or updated following a thorough review of data once nesting season officially concludes on Oct. 31.
Nests in Southwest Florida continue to hatch, so it is important to keep beaches dark and clear of obstacles for hatchlings trying to reach the water throughout the season.
Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol — a group of scientists, interns and volunteers who are monitoring nesting beaches for their 34th year on Longboat Key through Venice — report that 2015 brought a preliminary count of 2,433 loggerhead sea turtle nests and a confirmed count of 36 confirmed green sea turtle nests.
The 36 green sea turtle nests broke Mote’s previous record: 30 green turtle nests in 2013. In recent years, green turtle numbers around Florida have risen encouragingly. Statewide numbers are still being tallied, but so far, certain areas of Florida have reported exciting 2015 counts. (For example, USA Today reported recently on high green turtle counts from a wildlife refuge on Florida’s east coast, where greens are generally more prevalent. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/09/01/green-sea-turtles-set-nesting-record/71528312/)
Adding up nests from green and from loggerheads, the more common species for Southwest Florida, Mote’s preliminary grand total is 2,469 nests. If confirmed, it will equal the record total that Mote reported in 2012.
“We’re really pleased that green sea turtles broke their local record this year and that loggerheads, and the overall total, might tie with their best year yet,” said Kristen Mazzarella, Senior Biologist with Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. “Nest numbers have been quite strong here during recent years, reflecting increases elsewhere in Florida. We don’t know all of the reasons for these increases — there are many natural influences on sea turtle populations. However, we know that strong conservation measures instituted over 25 years ago, like the federal Endangered Species Act, state laws and local sea turtle ordinances are important, and we should never underestimate the positive impacts of local research, conservation and education efforts — like our 34-year program here at Mote.”
Nest counts for each sea turtle species by location are listed below. All loggerhead counts are preliminary.
False crawls are cases in which a sea turtle emerges and then returns to sea without laying a nest.
One 2015 nest currently labeled “loggerhead” was sampled for genetic testing to double-check its parent species. Genetic tests conducted after the 2014 season revealed two nests from an unusual visitor: a hybrid loggerhead/hawksbill sea turtle. Mote scientists want to know if a hybrid has also visited this year.
Hybrids from loggerheads mating with hawksbills are uncommon, but not unprecedented, elsewhere in the world. Mote has never documented a hawksbill nesting in its patrol area and had never documented a hawksbill-loggerhead hybrid locally until 2014. It is unknown whether any have slipped “under the radar”; hawksbill tracks on the beach can resemble those from loggerheads, and scientists often must see a nesting turtle or hatchlings to suspect a hybrid. In 2014 a suspected hybrid mother was observed and the hatchlings and eggs from its two nests were determined to have genetic traits from both loggerhead and hawksbill sea turtles. It may be months before similar testing can be conducted for the unconfirmed, 2015 nest.
No matter their species, every hatchling matters. All sea turtle species are threatened or endangered, and they are protected by state and federal laws.
Mote’s multi-decade monitoring efforts providing data that resource managers can use to understand and protect sea turtle populations. Long-term data are particularly important because sea turtles are long-lived species. It takes about 30 years for hatchlings born on our beaches to return to nest as adults.
“We have our fingers crossed that the remaining local nests will hatch successfully and ultimately add more breeding adults to the sea turtle population in our region,” Mazzarella said. “In part, the end results of nesting season will depend on natural factors such as weather. Many nests successfully weathered the rain this summer, but some were washed out, and hurricane season is still ongoing. In addition, these turtles are quite vulnerable to human activity. Hatchlings are at risk of disorienting — or losing their way to the sea — because of artificial lighting visible from the beach.”
Female sea turtles and their hatchlings find the water by heading toward the brightest horizon. On a natural beach, the ocean horizon is brighter than the shore. On a developed beach, light from waterfront properties can disorient sea turtles and draw them toward roads, drains, yards, swimming pools and other dangerous locations, exhausting the energy they need for reproduction and survival.
Rescued hatchlings in Mote’s area should be reported immediately to Mote’s sea turtle researchers at 941-388-4331 (other emergency contacts listed are listed at the end of this story). So far this year, the Hatchling Hospital within Mote’s public Aquarium has responded to about 2,200 hatchlings. About 450 of those needed to remain in the hospital for a period of time to help recover their strength.
“This was our highest number of patients in the Hatchling Hospital during the past six years,” said Holly West, Sea Turtle Care Coordinator at Mote.
How to Help Sea Turtles
Support sea turtle conservation and research.
Mote scientists are seeking donations of supplies and funding to help support the Sea Turtle Patrol as they complete the 2015 season and prepare for another busy year in 2016.
To make a donation, visit www.mote.org/donate, click “Donations” and choose to donate to Mote’s operating fund. During the checkout, enter “Sea Turtle Conservation and Research” in the box marked “donor notes.”
To make an in-kind donation of supplies, please contact Kathy Klingensmith at 941-388-4441, ext. 308 or [email protected].
Supplies needed for turtle patrol include:
Black permanent markers from Sharpie
100-foot large measuring tapes with non-metal blades
Paint roller covers, 9-inch and 4-inch (for painting yellow stakes to mark nests)
Flagging tape (for marking nests)
Latex gloves, medium size (for excavating hatched nests to document their contents)
Rubber mallets (for pounding stakes into the sand to mark nests)
Handheld GPS units (for documenting locations of turtle activities)
Digital cameras (for documenting nests and turtle crawls
All-terrain vehicle covers (for ATVs used to patrol beaches)
Yellow paint, 5-gallon cans (for painting stakes to mark nests)
Large tarps (used when painting nest stakes)
WD-40 lubricant (1 gallon)
AAA and AA batteries (for GPS and cameras used to document nests)
Waterproof field notebooks (from “Rite in the Rain” brand)
Red LED headlamps (for monitoring and studying sea turtles at night on the beach – red light does not disturb nesting turtles or hatchlings)
Wire cutters for making and disassembling protective cages
Keep beaches clear for sea turtle hatchlings.
Throughout nesting season, it is important to keep beaches turtle-friendly for hatchlings trying to reach the sea.
Mote encourages coastal residents and visitors to follow these turtle-friendly tips:
If you encounter a nesting turtle or hatchlings, remain quiet and observe from a distance.
Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October.
Close drapes after dark and stack beach furniture at the dune line or, ideally, remove it from the beach.
Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water.
Place trash in its proper place.
Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles.
Use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
Encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.
Use fireworks on the beach.
Contacts for sea turtle rescue
Sea turtles are protected under federal law and any harassment or interference with a sea turtle, living or dead, is subject to penalty. If you witness anyone disturbing a turtle or find an injured or disoriented hatchling or adult, please notify agents with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), the local sheriff’s department, and/or Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Program at 941-388-4331. If you find a dead or injured sea turtle contact Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program at 941-988-0212.
6th Annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic Nov. 13-17
Sponsorship, Tickets and Donation Opportunities Now Available
Keyless, the winning sand sculpture in the 2014 Siesta Key Crystal Classic. Credit: Studio F productions.
The Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival is now offering sponsorship, ticket sales, vendor village and donation opportunities online at www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com.
The Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition features professional sand sculptors creating towering artworks that can exceed 10 feet tall. The Crystal Classic has become a favorite for many sculptors — some say that Siesta Key’s pristine, white sand makes the sculptures evoke carved marble.
Sponsors will have their business logos carved by master sculptors using sand from the #1 beach, which will be observed by 35,000-40,000 people. Sponsorship also gives sponsors the opportunity to participate in a collaborative community event and a way to visibly support the cultural arts and the beautiful Siesta Beach.
The production of this year’s festival is a partnership between the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and Mote Marine Laboratory. A portion of proceeds will support Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, which coordinates conservation of endangered sea turtles along 35 miles of Sarasota County beaches, including Siesta Key.
Founded in 2010, The Crystal Classic is a result of discussions between master sand sculptor and Siesta Key resident Brian Wigelsworth and representatives of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, Mote Marine Laboratory and the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Tickets for the event include:
$6 one-day event pass
$25 five-day event admission
$49 Saturday, Nov. 14 reserved parking and admission
$59 Sunday, Nov.15 reserved parking and admission
$39 Monday, Nov. 16 reserved parking and admission
Electrify the Island at Mote sparks enthusiasm for driving electric
To download high-res photos from 2015 Electrify the Island click here.
Electric vehicles and other eco-friendly technologies showed their power during “Electrify the Island”: the Sarasota-based kickoff event for the fifth annual National Drive Electric Week, which featured local events across the nation.
It was Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium’s third year hosting the event on its City Island campus, and the fourth annual celebration held in Sarasota.
Mote is a world-class marine science and education institution that launched a Sustainable Energy Initiative in 2012 to enhance the Lab’s environmentally sound practices including using solar power, electric car chargers and other eco-friendly technologies and practices to conserve energy, water and other natural resources.
“Mote Marine Laboratory was pleased to host Electrify the Island to celebrate National Drive Electric Week for a third year in a row,” said Nigel Mould, Mote Trustee. “Mote launched its Sustainable Energy Initiative to enhance the Lab’s sustainable practices including installation of two free, electric vehicle charging stations located in the Aquarium’s parking lot and an array of solar panels located on the Lab’s buildings. This annual event showcases Mote’s dedication to sustainable practices, while also getting the community involved. As a nonprofit, Mote relies on the support of the community and this event is just one way to give back.”
Electrify the Island featured a plug-in electric vehicle (EV) expo, ride-and-drive sessions that allowed visitors to test some of the sleekest EVs around including cars from BMW of Sarasota and Sunset Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, along with vendors focused on sustainability and energy efficiency and educational booths provided by Andrews & Associates Realty, Inc., Freedom 4 Electric Bike Company; Region Solar, Sarasota County, City of Sarasota and others.
“This year, we had an incredible response from the community and we thank everyone for their support,” said Chris Sharek, Co-Chair of Electrify the Island and President of Sharek Solutions. “The importance of this year’s event was to showcase the diversity that is now available to the public. There are currently 18 different electric vehicles to choose from, each with their own advantages. Driving electric is fun, but it is also environmentally important. A fully-electric vehicle means no gasoline, no oil, and an incredibly sustainable use of energy.”
BMW of Sarasota displayed the BMW i8, the first sports car with the consumption and emission values of a compact car. Guests were welcome to speak to BMW of Sarasota representatives about the efficiency and dynamics of the BMW i8.
The event featured two free, public forums. A panel discussion titled “EV 101” allowed EV owners, representatives from Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and the public to discuss EV essentials. A forum about multi-unit dwellings allowed guests to discuss challenges faced by condo residents who own EVs. At a special ceremony, city and county officials, including Commission Chair Carolyn Mason from Sarasota County and Vice Mayor Suzanne Atwell from the City of Sarasota, read proclamations honoring Electrify the Island and National Drive Electric Week.
“If people need a place to learn about electric vehicles, events like this are perfect,” said Patrick Gannon, Co-Chair of Electrify the Island and President of Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association. “Local EV owners are enthusiastic to share their knowledge and the forums bring experts to the community and create much needed conversation about the importance of driving electric. We also hope that the event sparks discussion well after the event.”
If you couldn’t attend Electrify the Island, consider dropping by Mote on another Saturday this month: Mote’s admission is reduced to $6 for Florida residents every Saturday in September 2015.
The 2015 Electrify the Island was made possible by the following sponsors: Florida Power & Light Company; BMW of Sarasota; Brilliant Harvest, LLC; Sunset Chevrolet, Buick, GMC; Gettel Nissan; Sarasota Ford; Apollo Sunguard Systems, Inc.; and Willis A. Smith Construction.
Saturdays in September:
$6 Mote admission for Florida residents
In honor of Mote Marine Lab’s 60th anniversary, Florida residents are invited to discover the wonders of Mote Aquarium for just $6 every Saturday this September.
This year, Mote is celebrating 60 years of world-class marine research and education. As an independent, nonprofit Lab, Mote has succeeded through its wonderful partnerships with local communities, and we are excited to give back.
For every Saturday in the month of September, Florida residents of all ages can receive Mote Aquarium admission for $6 by providing proof of residency for at least one person in your group. The special is valid for up to four people in a party.
Mote looks forward to many more decades of groundbreaking research and to enhancing ocean literacy for even more people. Mote Aquarium is dedicated to sharing Mote research and encouraging future generations of scientists, educators and the public to explore their interest in marine science and to make more informed decisions about marine conservation.
You can also help Mote celebrate its 60th anniversary by wishing Mote a happy birthday and sending your most creative birthday wish. You can send all greetings, pictures, scanned drawings, pictures of you with Mote gear on, videos, creative artwork, etc., to [email protected]. We will compile the most imaginative submissions into a Facebook album for everyone to see. (Let us know in the email if you do not wish for your submission to be displayed publicly). Thank you for helping us celebrate our birthday!
Mote is also celebrating its 60th anniversary all year with the fundraising campaign Oceans of Opportunity. You can help by visiting: www.mote.org/oceanscampaign
Support Mote by dining at Columbia
Enjoy good eats for a great cause: Support Mote Marine Laboratory by dining at Columbia Restaurant any time during September.
Choose Mote from the ballot provided by your server and Columbia will donate 5 percent of your check to Mote, one of the nonprofits in the 18th Annual Columbia Restaurant Community Harvest.
The Community Harvest benefits deserving nonprofits near Columbia Restaurants in: Sarasota; multiple Tampa locations including Ybor City; St. Augustine; Clearwater Beach; and Celebration. Since 1998, Columbia has donated over $1.6 million to nonprofits throughout Florida.
Mote is an independent, nonprofit marine science and education institution dedicated to today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans.
All Columbia locations are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. In Sarasota, Columbia is located at 411 St. Armands Circle. For hours and other information, visit: www.columbiarestaurant.com
Oct. 3: Support Mote at second annual masquerade gala
Enjoy an enchanted evening full of dancing and mystery while supporting Mote Marine Laboratory at the second annual masquerade gala, Bal Masqué: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The gala takes place Saturday, Oct. 3 from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Avenue Sarasota, Fla., 34236.
Guests will wear their most elegant formal attire and creative masks. The Sarasota Opera House will be transformed into a mysterious garden where beautiful musical performances will set the tone for the night, aerialists will entertain from the vaulted ceilings and dancers will take stage. Cocktails and bite-sized food will be available throughout the night.
Tickets are $125. For each individual Bal Masqué ticket purchased online, SRQ | The Magazine will donate a portion of the proceeds to one of seven local organizations, including Mote, an independent, nonprofit marine research and education institution comprised of world-class marine scientists committed to the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans. Guests can select Mote Marine Laboratory from a list on the drop down menu on the purchase page.
Get ready for a mesmerizing night at the Harlequin Club VIP Party at Saks Fifth Avenue hosted by Sophie’s from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Harlequin Club provides exclusive access to Bal Masqué including tickets to the gala, a VIP lounge, private bar access and more. For each individual Harlequin Club ticket purchased online, SRQ | The Magazine will donate a portion of the proceeds to one of seven local organizations, including Mote. Guests can select Mote Marine Laboratory from a list on the drop down menu on the purchase page.
Harlequin Club Level 1 – $750 (Valued at $1,500)
VIP lounge and private bar access
Reserved seating during performance for optimal view of program
Recognition from stage via Master of Ceremonies
Business or group name included in the event program and Bal Masqué website
Six (6) tickets to the 2015 Bal Masqué: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil plus exclusive early entry
Harlequin Club Level 2 – $1500 (Valued at $3,000)
VIP lounge and private bar access
Reserved seating during performance for optimal view of program
Photo of your club members to appear in a subsequent edition of SRQ | The Magazine
Recognition from stage via Master of Ceremonies
Business or group name included in the event program and Bal Masqué website
Eight (8) tickets to the 2015 Bal Masqué: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil plus exclusive early entry
Two (2) VIP tickets to the Bal Masqué kickoff party
*The VIP Party has a 60 person capacity and will only be available to Level 2 ticket holders.
For more information, contact Ashley Ryan, SRQ | The Magazine Client Development Director at [email protected].
Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is celebrating its 60th year as an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 research organization. Mote’s beginnings date back six decades to the passion of a single researcher, Dr. Eugenie Clark, her partnership with the community and philanthropic support, first of the Vanderbilt family and later of the William R. Mote family.
Today, Mote is based in Sarasota, Fla. with field stations in eastern Sarasota County and the Florida Keys and Mote scientists conduct research on the oceans surrounding all seven of the Earth’s continents.
Mote’s 25 research programs are dedicated to today’s research for tomorrow’s oceans, with an emphasis on world-class research relevant to the conservation and sustainability of our marine resources. Mote’s vision also includes positively impacting public policy through science-based outreach and education. Showcasing this research is Mote Aquarium, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year. Learn more at mote.org.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Fla., 34236. 941.388.4441