When Is Sea Turtle Nesting Season? Sea Turtle Nesting FAQs
Sea turtles are among the many types of animals in danger of going extinct. While they do face many threats, disruptions to the habits and nesting season for sea turtles 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 turtles’ 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 sea turtle nests in just the Wider Caribbean Region.
However, that is just a small sample of where sea turtles may nest. You can find sea turtles’ nesting sites across the world.
One interesting fact about the nesting habits of sea turtles is how they choose their locations. Most females build sea turtle nests on beaches 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 IS SEA TURTLES NESTING SEASON?
There is no single answer to when is sea turtle nesting season. The answer depends on the type of sea turtle and the conditions at the location. For example, Florida sea turtles’ nesting season might differ from the nesting season for sea turtles in India.
Depending on a variety of factors, sea turtles nesting season 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.
WHAT DOES A SEA TURTLE NEST LOOK LIKE?
Sea turtle nests are a marvel of natural engineering and a beautiful expression of a mother's instinct to protect her offspring. It's a location that’s carefully chosen and typically hidden beyond the high-tide line on a beach.
To the casual observer, most sea turtle nests may not be readily apparent. They’re disguised with sand and look quite ordinary. The turtle uses her rear flippers to dig a flask-shaped chamber where she lays her eggs.
In typical sea turtle nests, you can expect to find leather eggs that are each about the size of a ping pong ball. The mother turtle will arrange them in a way to maximize space in the nest.
HOW DO THEY MAKE THEIR NESTS?
Building a nest for the eggs is an important part of sea turtles’ 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 sea turtle nests tstarts with the turtle’s emergence from the water. Once this happens, the sea turtle will search for a suitable location beyond the high-tide line.
After 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 their sea turtle nests, females will head back to the sea. They will not return to assist their hatchlings.
Instead, the young hatch their eggs by themselves. They’ll also 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 turtles’ 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.