Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sea turtle nesting season under way on Pinellas beaches

Four stakes and ribbon mark the sea turtle nest found Thursday at Redington Shores. Its location is tagged by GPS.


Four stakes and ribbon mark the sea turtle nest found Thursday at Redington Shores. Its location is tagged by GPS.

The adult female loggerhead was probably a veteran mother, Fort De Soto Park supervisor Jim Wilson thought, as she'd dug and laid her eggs in a dune far from the water's edge.

Before dawn on Thursday, she slipped back into the ocean. Soon after, rangers and a few volunteers drove four stakes into the sand where she labored and tied ribbons to each post, officially marking the first sea turtle nest found this year in Pinellas County.

"This is one of the best times of the year for us," Wilson said. "The shore is alive."

A little more than an hour later, and about 15 miles north, volunteers scouring 26 miles of sand in Redington Shores found the year's second sea turtle nest.

They, too, staked it and tied it with ribbon. Its location was tagged by GPS.

In roughly 55 days, hatchlings will crawl out of the golf ball-sized eggs, spot the moon's reflection undulating on the ocean and head toward the water.

In the meantime, watch your step.

Nesting season has officially begun and should conclude toward the end of October. These nests were laid about a week earlier than the first nests last year, which could signal a good season ahead.

"The last couple of years we've been getting them earlier and earlier," said Mike Anderson, supervisor of sea turtles and aquatic biology at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

In the months ahead, the mothers will crawl up the beaches at night in search of the perfect spot. They will dig a hole the size of a bowling ball with their hind legs, lay more than 75 eggs, and then fill the hole back up with sand.

"Last year (egg laying) was up significantly," Wilson said.

There are seven species of sea turtles, and Florida is home to five of them, Wilson said.

They nest along the Atlantic and gulf coasts, and while Pinellas has seen nests from nearly all five Florida species, loggerheads arrive in the greatest numbers.

During nesting season, beach-goers want to remember to pick up after themselves when they leave so their forgotten chairs or coolers don't become obstacles for the sea turtles.

It's illegal to disturb the nests, whether they've been roped off or not.

In a couple of months, if you see tiny turtles making their way toward the water, avoid touching or distracting them. And for people who live near the 588 miles of coastline in Pinellas, close your blinds, dim your lights and turn off outside lights, because the light tends to confuse the mothers and hatchlings.

Weston Phippen can be reached at or (727) 893-8321

Sea turtle nesting season under way on Pinellas beaches 05/08/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2014 8:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Come on down, former 'Price Is Right' announcer Rich Fields; you're the new afternoon DJ on Q105


    There's a new afternoon drive host on classic hits radio station WRBQ-FM, better known as "Q105."

  2. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now


    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  3. In Syria's Raqqa, IS makes last stand at city's stadium


    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria captured the city hospital in Raqqa on Tuesday, leaving IS militants holed up at the local stadium, their last stand in the fight over what was once the extremists' de facto capital.

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]
  4. Florida education news: Constitution changes, #HB7069, school security and more


    NEW RULES: Once every 20 years, Florida convenes a commission to examine whether the state constitution needs amending. Education — Article IX — can play a pivotal role, and this time around the subject appears to be coming into focus for possible change. Members of the public already have

  5. Forecast: Sporadic showers across Tampa Bay as heat is kept in check


    Sporadic showers and storms swept through Tampa Bay early Tuesday morning, dropping over an inch of rain in some areas.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]