Sea Turtle Nesting Habits
Sea turtles are among the many types of animals in danger of going extinct. While they do face many threats, disruptions to the nesting habits of sea turtle populations are a significant problem.
While sea turtles spend most of their time at sea, they must come to land to nest and deposit their eggs. Through factors like climate change, coastal development, and activity near beaches, sea turtle nesting grounds are being disturbed and destroyed.
Sea turtle nesting habits are of particular interest to those concerned with conservation. As we learn more about their nesting habits, we can do more to protect the various sea turtle species around the world.
Where do sea turtles nest?
The short answer is that sea turtles nest on beaches. If you are asking about which beaches, there are many. As of 2019, there were more than 1,300 known nesting sites in just the Wider Caribbean Region. However, that is just a small sample of where sea turtles may nest. You can find sea turtle nesting sites across the world.
One interesting fact about the nesting habits of sea turtles is how they choose their nesting location. Most female sea turtles will nest on a beach within the same region from where they hatched. Many return to the same beach for nesting. If not the same beach, most turtles will return to a beach within 35 miles of where they hatched or nested in the past.
When do sea turtles nest?
There is no single answer to this question about the nesting habits of sea turtle populations. The answer depends on the type of sea turtle and the conditions at the location. For example, Florida sea turtle nesting habits might differ from sea turtles in India.
Depending on a variety of factors, sea turtle nesting usually starts toward the end of January and tapers off during October. It is also important to note that sea turtles will nest multiple times per season. Most will only nest 2-3 times per season, but female leatherbacks nest about 5-7 times per season.
How do they make their nests?
Building a nest for the eggs is an important part of sea turtle nesting habits. The nest not only plays a critical role in the incubation process, but it also protects the eggs from predators. The first step in building a nest is emerging from the water and finding a suitable location beyond the high-tide line.
Once the turtle finds a location, she will dig a body pit using her front flippers. The pit serves as a place for her to lie as she deposits her eggs. With the pit dug, the nesting mother will get in the pit and use her rear flippers to dig an egg chamber. The female turtle will lay about 80-120 eggs in the chamber.
Hiding the eggs is another vital step in the nesting habits of sea turtles. With the eggs laid, the turtle will cover them with sand and fill in the body chamber. She will then work with her flippers to pack the sand down and disguise the nest.
Do sea turtles care for their hatchlings?
After laying eggs and disguising the nest, the female sea turtle will head back to the sea. She will not return to assist the hatchlings. The young hatch their own eggs and make their way to the sea for the first time on their own.
Sea Turtle Conservation
Sea turtle conservation efforts are vital to the protection of these animals. As sea turtle nesting habits are disrupted, they have less space to nest. It also makes fewer hatchlings survive.
You can help conservation efforts with the purchase of a sea turtle tracking bracelet. We donate a portion of every sale to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. They are one of the oldest and most respected organizations working to protect sea turtles from extinction.