While turtle season doesn’t officially start until May 1, the turtles are early this year and have already begun laying nests on local beaches. Turtles start nesting when the water temperature reaches about 81 degrees.
Fort Myers Beach had the first nest in Southwest Florida on Friday, followed by one on Sanibel Island and one on Marco Island on Saturday.
Local turtle experts hope to see some green turtles this year, though most of the turtles laying eggs on local beaches are loggerheads. Occasionally a green turtle comes on shore (they lay eggs every 2-3 years), with the last green turtle nest being on Bonita Beach in 2013.
TURTLE TIME FACTS
•Loggerheads are the most common sea turtles in Florida
•Adults grow to more than 3 feet long and weigh 200-350 pounds
•They may travel thousands of miles from feeding grounds to nesting beaches
•Female turtles nest on the same beaches where they were born
•A female loggerhead may nest 1-7 times during a season at about 15 day intervals
•Incubation takes 55-65 days
•The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchlings. Cooler sand produces mostly males, while warmer sand produces mostly females.
•Hatchlings are about 2 inches long
•Hatchlings emerge at night and are guided by the lighter Gulf horizon to the water
TURTLE TIME – THE LAW
•Both interior and exterior lights must not be visible on the beach.
•People can explore the different options of LED fixtures at myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/lighting/certified
•Beach furniture must be removed from the beach from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. (must be behind the dunes and vegetation or up against the house)
•The rule is in effect from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. May 1 to Oct. 31