The first sea turtle nest of the 2019 nesting season was found Saturday, April 27, on the east end of Sanibel Island. The loggerhead nest was discovered by volunteers Irene Nolan, Paola Wierda and Darlene Rizzo. It was screened to protect it against predation; the holes in the screening are large enough for hatchlings to emerge without assistance.

Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation coordinates monitoring of sea turtle nesting on Sanibel and Captiva with the help of about 100 volunteers. In 2018, a total of 721 nests were laid on the two islands. That number includes 718 loggerhead nests, two green turtle nests and one laid by the rare Kemp’s ridley. Last year, more than 38,000 hatchlings emerged from nests on both islands.

SCCF reminds the public to keep the safety of nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings while on the beach. All sea turtle species are listed and protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The following are tips to help provide a safe beach for the nesting sea turtles:

Shield or turn off lights near the beach

Take all beach furniture, tents and umbrellas off the beach

Fill any holes on the beach

Do not approach or disturb nesting turtles

Never take a flash photo of a sea turtle

Cover all flashlights with an approved sea turtle friendly filter; turn the flashlight off immediately if a turtle is spotted

Pick up trash on the beach, especially plastic

Honor the pet leash law

For more information on the sea turtles that next and hatch on the beaches, visit the SCCF Nature Center, 3333 Sanibel Captiva Rd., for the Turtle Tracks education program.