Sea Turtles

Sea turtle nesting as the sun is rising.
A green sea turtle finishes covering her nest.

NPS/Photo






















2017 SEA TURTLE NESTING (9-21-2017)


Species Apollo Beach Playalinda Beach SpeciesTotal
Loggerhead
(Caretta caretta)
1,792 2,766 4,558
Green
(Chelonia mydas)
2,185 5,506 7,691
Leatherback
(Dermochelys coriacea)
7 16 23
Kemps Ridley
(Lepidochelys kempii)
0 0 0
Beach Totals 3,841 7,883 Grand Total=12,272



Canaveral National Seashore serves as an important nesting area for sea turtles. During the months of April through October, giant sea turtles lumber ashore to nest on the beach. Four turtle are known to nest in the park: the loggerhead, green, leatherback and kemp's ridley. Loggerhead's lay 3,000-5,000 nests per year. Green's lay 200-6,000 nests per year. Leatherbacks deposit up to 34 nests per year within the park boundary.

Sea turtles lay approximately 100 round, white leathery eggs in each nest. Prior to 1984, most of the eggs laid within the seashore were eaten by raccoons, and to a lesser extent by ghost crabs. Some nests are lost when beaches erode from storms.

If the eggs survive, they begin to hatch in approximately sixty days. The first turtles to hatch will wait until their nest-mates have left their eggshells. Because of the depth of the nest, it would be difficult for one three-inch hatchling to emerge from the eighteen-inch deep nest by itself. There is also safety in numbers When the cool signals safety at nighttime, the hatchling gradually dig their way out of the nest in a united effort to make their way to the sand's surface.

Many hazards await the hatchlings when they reach the surface of the nest. Ghost crabs, birds, raccoons and the drying heat of the early morning sun are waiting for the tiny turtles as they try to make it to the ocean.

Once the turtle makes it past the surf, they swim to a region of the Atlantic Ocean known as the Sargasso Sea, a large area of seaweed which sits in the middle of the North Atlantic Gyre. Here the hatchlings feed on seaweed and tiny animals and seek protection from predators. When they reach adolescence, some turtles return to the inshore waters of Mosquito Lagoon.

The ocean holds more hazards than just the sea turtles' natural predators. Many deaths are attributed to entanglement in fishing lines, collisions with ships and boat propellers, drowning in commercial fishing nets and injesting plastic fragments or congealed oil.

Last updated: September 21, 2017

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