Story time: A Loggerhead’s Journey to Nest part 2

Thanks for tuning in as we continue on our mission as Panama City Beach Turtle Watch to protect sea turtles through our active volunteer program (full for this season) and through education efforts.

You’ll recall in our last post that our female loggerhead encountered bright lights and disturbance leading to a false crawl (non-nesting emergence). We now share the next chapter of her story.

Imagine you are the female loggerhead that very badly wants to nest. You are likely exhausted from your prior crawl where you attempted to nest but you instead escaped the paparazzi without nesting. You have returned to the water and begin to regain your strength and energy as you gracefully swim along. You have ~100 eggs that you are ready to lay but you need a good beach to lay them on. You swim, under the dark of night, about 3 miles from your first attempt. You pop your head up for a breath and see a darker empty beach, you are ready to give it another try. You swim toward the shoreline and emerge from the water. Once again crawling your ~300 pound self up the sandy beach about 60 feet and unfortunately something doesn’t feel right about this location. You wander a bit eastward, are you drawn to a bright light or the urban glow of Panama City? While your initial thought was this would make a good nesting site, you have now crawled over 130 feet from where you exited the water and haven’t nested, only to return to the water leaving another false crawl.

Above is the next crawl our surveyor found one recent morning. We have no beachgoer accounts of what happened at this location and based on the photos taken during our morning survey it doesn’t look like she was disturbed by beachgoers. But something wasn’t right, she wandered further than usual crawling over 130 feet parallel to the shore before returning to the water. On our Florida beaches, it is not uncommon to have false crawls as the turtles scope out the feel and appearance of the beach to choose their ideal nesting location. We assume this was a natural false crawl.

This particular loggerhead has now made two false crawls and is still very eager to nest. Where will she go next, stay tuned to find out!

If you encounter a sea turtle on our sandy beaches, please contact PCB non-emergency at 850-233-5000 and they will dispatch our volunteers. Please leave our beaches clean, dark and flat to provide the best nesting environment possible for these protected species!

False crawl #2 on a recent morning (believed to be the same turtle from a previous false crawl that morning based on the crawl width)

False crawl #2 on a recent morning, to the right in this picture is where she emerged from the water, made a turn and 130 feet later went back into the water without nesting. Notice the turtle tracks go over tire tracks, that is a sign to us that she was on the beach after other beach surveyors/officials/vendors were on the beach the previous day/night