Calico Crab

Marco Island’s Colorful Calico Crab

Calico Crab Shell

One of my favorite “shells” to find on Marco Island is the Calico Crab shield. Calico Crabs are also known as “Leopard Crabs” because of their colorful carapaces. They can be found along most of the Gulf of Mexico, including Marco Island’s Crescent Beach and Tigertail Beach.

The Calico Crab lives in shallow water along beaches and offshore. It can reach up to a 3 inch wide white carapace with large red spots and darker outlines.

Calico Crab on Marco Island's Crescent Beach
Live Calico Crab on Marco Island’s Crescent Beach

Food Sources and Habits

Calico Crabs are walking crabs, with their back legs designed for moving rather than being flattened for swimming and digging. This crab buries itself completely in sand until food is close by. Then they become very aggressive, moving quickly out of the sand to capture their prey. The normal food sources are decomposing organic matter from plants and animals (minnows, worms, clams, and other small invertebrates). This small crab’s predators are rays, fish, and sea turtles.

Carapace Shedding Process

Thanks to Treasure Seeker’s Shell Tours for the following information on the process of the Calico Crab shedding the carapace: https://treasureseekersshelltours.com.

Calico Crab Shield …when this guy starts the process to shed his shield it takes him up to two weeks to shell, if it is long it can take up to two months. Crabs are crustaceans, and we often see them on our beaches in the sand and they love mud . One of the important characteristics of the crab is that they can shell, they will not only shed their shells once in a Lifetime, but will shed their shells a dozen times. It is very likely that we can observe their shelling phenomenon . If the interval is relatively short then the crab can only shell once in about 2 months .

Visit our website https://www.seamarcondo.com for more information on Sea Mar Condo, Marco Island, FL. We want to make your vacation on Marco Island a trip of a lifetime!

Looking for Manatee on Marco Island

Manatee

As frequent visitors and part-time residents, we often find ourselves looking for manatee on Marco Island. Although there are several of these gentle giants on the island, it is often hard to spot them. Look for large dark spots in the water off the beach areas.

Eco boat tours touring through the 10,000 island Gulf waters offer guests a good opportunity to see a manatee up close and personal. Especially during hot weather, they can often be spotted in Marco Island canals and in the warm shallow waters around Tigertail Beach.

Manatee
Manatee Love Warm Shallow Water

Manatee Behavior

The Florida Manatee (commonly known as a sea cow) is a gentle, slow moving giant of the sea.  They can weigh between 800 and 1,200 pounds, but are not “fat”.  Like other mammals, their organs and bone structure take up most of their body weight.  In fact, they have very little body fat and, depending on water temperature, can easily be the victims of hypothermia.  They rarely venture into waters below 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

The manatee is a large aquatic relative of the elephant.  They are grayish brown in color and have thick, wrinkled skin. Their front flippers help them steer, or sometimes crawl, through shallow water.  Manatees also have powerful, flat tails that help propel them through the water.  Although they rest and feed often,  manatees also body surf or barrel roll when playing.  Despite their small eyes and lack of outer ears, manatees are thought to see and hear well.  They communicate by squealing under water to demonstrate fear, stress or excitement.

The Florida manatee play an important role in influencing plant growth in the shallow rivers, bays, estuaries, canals and the coastal waters they live in.  Their diets consist mostly of sea grasses and freshwater vegetation.

Manatee calves are born weighing between 60 and 70 pounds and measure about 3-4 feet long.  They nurse underwater.

They are mammals and must surface to breath air on an average of every three to five minutes. Because of having to surface for air frequently, manatee stay close to the surface of the water. Unfortunately, this makes them easy targets for boat propellers. From April 1 through November 15, seasonal manatee zones require boaters to slow down in certain areas to protect these beautiful sea creatures.

How to Spot Manatee on Marco

The best way to see manatee in the water is by wearing polarized sunglasses to help see through the glare on the water. Manatee also make large circles on the water called “manatee footprints”. Also, look for a manatee’s snout sticking up out of the water or a large dark spot in the water.

Manatee prefer waters that are aoub 3-7 feet deep like the Marco Island canals and the surrounding 10,0000 island area. Often times, it is best to drive by some of the island’s canals and make a stop to look for the manatee.

Of course, if you fail to see a manatee on either your eco boat tour or on your canal tour of the island, you can always spot the many manatee shaped mailboxes on the island.

Manatee Mailbox on Marco
Manatee Mailboxes are Common on Marco Island
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Visit our website at https://seamarcondo.com.  Our “Top 10 List” provides information on bird watching, sea life, and fishing on Marco Island. We recommend several tour companies to make looking for manatee on Marco Island more enjoyable.

Sea Turtles on Marco island

Marco Island Turtles

Sea turtles on Marco Island are one of the island’s greatest assets! Did you know that on average there are 80 Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) nests per year on the 4 miles of Marco Island’s beach?  Whether you live here or are just visiting, you can easily participate in protecting these threatened creatures and their important nesting environment.

Turtle Nesting Season

Turtle Nest on Tigertail

Each May and continuing through early August, female loggerhead sea turtles crawl out of the Gulf of Mexico and nest on Marco Island’s beach. The baby turtles, or hatchlings, will emerge 60 days after the nests are laid. Hatchlings generally are emerging from early July through the end of October each year.  During this time, Marco Island has regulations regarding outside lighting at night along and on the beach.  Each turtle nest is recorded and monitored during the nesting season.

 

Sea Turtle Facts

It takes a female turtle 1 to 3 hours to lay an average of 100 eggs in the sand.

*A female turtle can nest several times per season (up to 7), but may only nest every 2-3 years.
*The female turtle uses her rear flippers to dig the nest cavity before depositing her eggs.
*Male turtles spend their life in the open ocean never crawling up on the beach.
*The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the hatchlings.
*It is estimated that only 1 in 1000 sea turtle hatchlings will survive to reproductive maturity.
*Sea turtles cannot retract their heads into their shells.
*A group of sea turtles is called a flotilla.

How Long Do Sea Turtles Live?
No one knows for sure. According the US Fish and Wildlife Service, scientists are uncertain how long they live because there is no known way to determine their age.

Sea turtles spend almost their entire lives in the sea. They are excellent swimmers, gliding gracefully through the water with flipper-like forelimbs and a streamlined shell. The Sea turtles frequently come to the surface to breathe when active, but can remain underwater for several hours when resting. They are always on the move and travel hundreds of miles across ocean waters.

Sea Turtle Species

The six sea turtle species in the United States are; Loggerhead, Green turtle, Leatherback turtle, Hawksbill turtle, and the Olive Ridley sea turtle. Marco Island’s most common variety of sea turtle is the loggerhead, which averages 200 to 250 pounds. Larger leatherbacks and green turtles nest here in smaller numbers.  Most of Marco Island’s sea turtle nests are usually on Sand Dollar, near Tiger Tail Beach. The remainder are located on the main beach and Hideaway Beach. Marco Island beach is vital to the sea turtle’s continued survival in Southwest Florida.

Among the largest of living reptiles, sea turtles have scales and a bony shell, are cold-blooded, breathe air, and lay their eggs on land. It is illegal to hunt sea turtles in most countries; however they continue to be harvested for food and are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. Sea turtles play a key role in the Gulf Coast’s fragile ecosystem. Manatee and sea turtles are the only creatures in the world to eat the sea grass which grows on the ocean floor. Sea turtles are vulnerable to oil pollution because of their tendency to float upon the ocean surface.

Your Role in Protecting Marco Island’s Sea Turtles

What can you do to protect the sea turtles on Marco Island?

*Make sure you leave the beach clear of all beach toys, fishing line, plastic bottles or any other item that would be an obstacle for turtles either leaving the water or returning to the water.  The adult turtles often become entangled in fishing line and the baby turtles can become disoriented when objects are in their path to the water.

*Turn off lights after 9 pm in condos and hotel rooms along the beach in turtle season.  Avoid flash lights on the beach during turtle nesting season.

*Fill all holes along the beach that turtles could become trapped in or that could cause a female to return to the ocean instead of laying eggs.

*Comply with posted signs that are on nesting sites asking that you stay back from the nests.

*If you are lucky enough to see a nest hatching, please follow all instructions from the volunteers that are monitoring the nesting process.

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Visit our website at https://seamarcondo.com to see our rates and availability. Our website also provides more information on Sea Mar Condo and Marco Island.
Let us help you make the most of your Marco Island vacation!

Baby Sea Turtles Hatching on Marco Island, FL

Baby Sea Turtles Hatching

It is not often that beach goers get to witness baby sea turtles hatching on Marco Island, FL.  Sometimes, a few lucky residents and visitors get to see exactly that.

Our Personal Experience

My husband (Larry) and I and one of my husbands brothers and his wife also got a chance to see a nest of hatchlings emerge from the sand and crawl to the ocean several years ago.  It was one of the most exciting events that we have ever seen.  Mary Nelson (Marco Island’s “Turtle Lady” at that time), was  present at our sighting.  The turtle patrol monitors each one of the turtle nests on Marco Island on a daily basis.  They also record each hatching, meaning they are very busy during the nesting/hatching season.

Baby Sea Turtle
Baby Sea Turtle

Rules to Follow

If you are present at one of the hatchings, you will be directed by the turtle patrol and a group of volunteers not to use the flash on your cameras (which can result in arrest), and to stay back behind the nest.  Any misdirection on their path to the sea — from artificial lighting to items left on the beach, holes in the sand or people approaching or handling them — may leave the new babies exhausted, lost or dehydrated on the beach, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Turtle season lasts from May through October, so don’t give up on getting to see a hatching!  All turtle nests are roped off with yellow caution tape and an information sheet.  It is always important to stay behind the roped off areas.

Tip: Turtle nests usually hatch late at night. However, flashlights are not allowed on the beach during turtle season. Walking the beach on a natural moonlit night might be your best option to see a hatching. Look for a group of volunteers around a marked off nest – this is a good indication they are waiting on a nest to hatch.

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Come visit us at Sea Mar Condo. We are located close to both South (Crescent) Beach and Tigertail Beach. Visit our website at https://seamarcondo.com to see our rates and availability. Our website also provides more information on Sea Mar Condo and Marco Island.
Let us help you make the most of your Marco Island vacation!

What You Need To Know About Turtle Season on Marco Island

Turtle Nesting

IT’S TURTLE SEASON ON MARCO ISLAND….. Have you ever wondered how anyone identifies that a sea turtle has been to those yellow taped off nests? I know I have.

Well, this is what our “Turtle People” on Marco Island looks for when they ride along on a 4 wheeler very early each morning during turtle nesting season. The evidence is what looks like big tire tracks leading to the ocean. This is where the mother has left the ocean for a brief period of time during the night and laid her eggs before returning to the ocean.

Sea Turtle Nesting

Nesting/Laying of Eggs

The Loggerhead sea turtles on Marco Island have an incubation period of between 45-55 days. I was very fortunate several years ago to meet with Mary and some of the volunteers on the island that protect these nests.  Our group was also fortunate to see a nest of baby sea turtles hatch. It was an amazing experience! Yes, those roped off nests actually do hatch out between 100-150 little baby turtles that make their way to the ocean (at night).

There are an average of 80 Loggerhead Sea Turtle nests per year on the 4 miles of Marco Island’s beach.  Each May through early August  the nests are laid.  The hatchlings generally emerge from early July through the end of October each year.

A female turtle will take an average of 1 – 3 hours to lay about 100 eggs in the sand.  She can nest several times during the May-October nesting season.  Her back flippers are used to dig the nest cavity before depositing the eggs.  The male turtle never crawls up on the beach.

Hatchlings

The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the hatchlings.  If the eggs incubate below 81.86 Fahrenheit, the turtle hatchlings will be male.  If the eggs incubate above 87.8 Fahrenheit, the hatchlings will be female.   Temperatures that fluctuate between the two extremes will produce a mix of male and female baby turtles.  It is estimated that only 1 in 1000 sea turtle hatchlings will survive to reproduce because of their predators in the ocean.

Baby Turtle

Visiting Marco Island During Nesting Season

Turtle season on Marco Island starts May 1 and goes through the end of September. All beachfront properties on Marco Island have to have lights off or blinds drawn after 9 pm during turtle hatching season. If the baby turtles see light, they go toward it – and if the light is from a beachfront property, they go away from the ocean instead of the path they need to take, which is toward moonlight over the ocean. Many thanks to all on Marco Island who take care of our Loggerheads!

As a visitor to Marco Island, you can also help protect our turtles. Always feel free to look at a turtle nest, but do not disturb the nest. Make sure you clean the beach from any straws, plastic, or other items that baby turtles can get tangled up in or hurt by. Make sure you fill in all holes that have been dug in the sand as the babies can get trapped in these and not make their way to the ocean.  Take your beach walks during the day since flashlights and flash photography will emit light sources.

Loggerhead Turtle Nest Marco Island
Turtle Nest on Tigertail Beach

In the event you discover an injured or dead sea turtle, please notify one of the following agencies immediately:

City of Marco Island
(239) 389-5000  (Weekdays)
(239) 793-9300 (Weekdays/Evenings)

Collier County Natural Resources Department
(239) 732-2505 (Weekends)
Page #:(239) 890-6486 (Weekends/Evenings)

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
Sea Turtle Stranding Network: 1-888-404-FWCC (3922)

Visit our website https://www.seamarcondo.com for more information on Sea Mar Condo, Marco Island, FL. We want to make your vacation on Marco Island a trip of a lifetime!