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!