Season summary

The 2021 sea turtle season was one of the longest on record due to late-season nests that hatched in November, including these green turtle hatchlings entering chilly Gulf waters just a few weeks ago. Only 26 loggerhead nests and one green nest were found this year, the lowest total in a decade on our beach. Hatchling production was only 41% due to numerous storms that flooded and washed out several nests. Artificial lights continue to pose a serious threat to hatchlings that emerge at night, with over half of those emerging from nests this season disoriented by lights (most rescued by volunteers). We’ll hope for better luck in 2022. See you next year!

Season update

Hatching season is winding down as beach nourishment operations ramp up on the west end. We’re still monitoring seven nests which should hatch by the end of October. Stay tuned for a season wrap-up.

Hurricane Ida

All of our nests were flooded by Ida, but those laid near the dune were only moderately washed and should hatch. Of the 14 nests on the beach when the storm hit, up to 5 were washed away and have lost marking stakes, with the remaining 9 nests intact. We’ll assess the nest sites when beach conditions allow. Surf remains high as of this morning.

Tropical Storm Fred

Fred washed out three nests and flooded several others, but the storm spared several nests which we expect to hatch in the coming weeks. Nesting normally subsides at this time of year, but not this season. Three were laid since the storm came through on August 16, one by a green turtle and the others by loggerheads. Public nest excavations are stopped this year due to covid. We are recording videos of some excavations and posting on our Facebook page. Please check there for updates.

Hatching season underway!

Our hatching season kicked off with over 100 loggerhead hatchlings emerging from a nest last week! We are not performing public nest excavations due to covid, but we will stream some of these events on our Facebook page, so please check there for updates. Remember to avoid using lights or taking flash pictures of hatchlings, and immediately call the Beach Police at 850-233-5000 if you see turtles on the beach.

Our turtles need your help

Please immediately call the Beach Police at 850-233-5000 if you see nesting sea turtles on Panama City Beach. Never shine lights or take flash photos of the turtle which may cause her to abandon nesting. So far this season we have seen low nesting and high numbers of false crawls. This may indicate that turtles are being disturbed while attempting to nest. Remember to remove your tents and chairs at the end of the day, pick up trash, and minimize the use of lights on the beach at night. Keep our beaches clean, dark, and flat for turtles. Thank you!

Tropical Storm Claudette

One nest was washed away and several others flooded by surf from the tropical storm last weekend. Sea turtle eggs can tolerate some flooding, so we hope that hatchlings will emerge from the flooded nests. Loggerhead nests require about two months to incubate, and the first nests should begin hatching in early August. Please call the Beach Police at 850-233-5000 if you see nesting sea turtles on Panama City Beach.

Turtle Encounter Tips

If you see a nesting turtle on Panama City Beach, please immediately call the Beach Police at 850-233-5000. They will forward your report to Turtle Watch volunteers who will respond to mark the nest. Don’t shine lights on the turtle or take flash photos, and stay at least 30 feet away and not in her line of sight. We’ve found two loggerhead nests and expect many more in the coming days!

2021 season underway!

Our survey crew is on the job! So far we’ve found only one false crawl made by a loggerhead, but we hope to find our first nest any day. We wish you a happy Memorial Day!

Wrapping up a year like no other

Panama City Beach experienced above average loggerhead nesting and record green nesting in 2020, but hatchling production suffered due to numerous storms that flooded many nests. This loggerhead hatchling is from our last nest of the season (picture courtesy of Turtle Watcher Angela Barros). See History for details on each nest, including location, hatching success, and incubation times. Our work feels like a footnote in this year of pandemic and political strife. Take care of yourself, don’t forget to vote, and we will look forward to better times in 2021.