Our volunteers have been super busy doing what they were trained to do…monitor nests and rescue any disoriented hatchlings.
The start of our hatching season could be described as a hatchling frenzy. We have had 8 nests hatch. Unfortunately, they have all been disoriented meaning the hatchlings didn’t make it to the water unassisted. When they emerged they headed toward the brightest horizon. In all cases so far, the hatchlings were disoriented by beachfront lighting. Either drawing them directly to the dunes or leaving them walking great distances from the nest before making it to the water or being collected. Disorientation causes them to waste energy and makes them more susceptible to predators.
You can help by turning off exterior lights and closing blinds/curtains at night. Fortunately, our volunteers have been present or arrived shortly after the hatch and have collected the disoriented hatchlings so they could be released on a dark beach.
If you encounter a sea turtle hatchling keep an eye on it and please contact Beach Police at 850-233-5000 and they will call us to respond.
We have also been busy excavating the hatched nests 3-4 nights after they hatch. This allows us to assess the nest contents and determine the hatch success. Several nests have had a straggler or two in the chamber that was collected during the excavation and released later that night on a dark beach. If you would like to attend an excavation or watch it online, please follow Panama City Beach Turtle Watch on Facebook.
Photo: Loggerhead hatchlings recovered during a recent nest excavation and released that night.
Photo taken as part of MTP-038.