Sea turtle nest appears early on a Florida beach
Florida Vacation Guide to early arrival of sea turtle nests
Seeing a sea turtle nest on the beaches of northern Florida is a pretty common occurrence. However, it is unusual to see a sea turtle nest on the beaches of Florida in March.
This past weekend, someone spotted a sea turtle nest in South Ponte Vedra. When biologist Scott Eastman was notified of the sighting, he thought it was early in the season but he went to investigate anyway.
What he found was a “textbook” leatherback sea turtle nest. Momma turtle tracks were there on either side of the disturbed area in the sand, leading to and from the ocean.
Too early for nesting?
The interesting thing about this finding is that sea turtle nesting season doesn’t start in this part of Florida until May. However, it looks like nobody told mother turtle that! Eastman says, “turtles don’t go along with our official dates.”
Leatherback sea turtle nests have been spotted in St. Johns County in April, but there hasn’t ever been a reported nest discovery in March since the state started keeping records back in 1987.
Why are the turtles nesting now?
Eastman believes warmer than seasonal water temperatures can be attributed to this particular mother turtle nesting earlier in the season than the norm. The water at this beach is ten degrees warmer than it was at this time a year ago. These are temperatures not usually experienced here until mid-April.
What does this mean?
According to Eastman, “Temperature definitely initiates a lot of migratory and breeding behaviors in other animals and I think, likewise, we’ll see it in sea turtles.”
Eastman also believes this instance could be indicative of a change in nesting patterns which could mean a longer nesting season.
What animal would you most like to spot on a Florida vacation?