Nesting Volunteers are Ready!

Who’s on call? Our 2024 Nesting Volunteers!!!!

Our nesting volunteers completed FWC and local field training to prepare for our 2024 Nesting sea turtle season. They have been assigned scheduled dates in which they will respond to any nesting sea turtles or nests that may be located along our beach. They will mark the nest in a manner that it will remain protected as the eggs incubate for approximately 60 days.

We are grateful for the commitment by our volunteers as we work on our beaches to protect our local sea turtle population.

We are not permitted to release the location of nests or predicted hatch dates. When we have a public excavation following a hatch, that will be announced on our Facebook page.

We are no longer accepting any applications for our 2024 volunteer season, if you are interested next season reach out to us around February.

First nest of 2024 PCB TW Season!

We are excited to announce we have located and marked for protection our first 2024 sea turtle nest on Panama City Beach!

Overnight May 13th, a Loggerhead, came ashore and nested 🐢

Loggerheads are the most common nesting sea turtle on PCB but we have hopes of receiving Green and Leatherback nests this season as well! We’re open to a Kemp’s Ridley nesting as well which would be a first for our program.

What should you do if you encounter a sea turtle at night on the beach? Avoid using any lights, keep your distance, stay out of her line of sight and call local non-emergency police at 850-230-5000 so they can contact our volunteers. Sea turtles can be very sensitive to light and sound. The nesting female had to work hard to crawl onto the beach to nest considering she was designed for the water, so let’s do our part to not disturb her! Our surveyors begin patrol just before sunrise looking for sea turtle crawls so if you see a nesting turtle or a crawl, please avoid the area so we have the best look possible to assess the crawl when our surveyors or volunteers arrive.

Having located our first nest, we can now congratulate Melissa Taylor. Melissa submitted our 2024 First Nest Prediction form and she predicted our first nest very closely in all categories for date, time, species and location! Thanks to everyone that participated in that fun game!

Per the FWC permit we operate under, we don’t announce the nest locations or predicted hatch dates. So stay tuned during the season here for our nesting and hatching progress. Public excavation events will be posted on Facebook as they are scheduled following a hatch.

Check out this great informational poster about Loggerheads care of Sea Turtle Conservancy

Nest 1 of 2024 Season

All activities performed under MTP-038.

c/o Sea Turtle Conservancy

2024 Sea Turtle Nesting Season has begun!

The day our surveyors and volunteers have been waiting for has come….May 1st….the start of our 2024 sea turtle nesting season here in Panama City Beach!

Our surveyors headed out this morning just before sunrise as they will do daily between now and mid September looking for signs of sea turtle nests.

As we anxiously await finding our first nest of the season, we thought it would be fun to have our followers predict the details of our first nest of the 2024 Season.

Use this form to submit your PCB TW first nest of 2024 Prediction! The winner will be selected from form submissions and will receive their choice of a PCB Turtle Watch merchandise item!

Stay tuned here or on Facebook for updates throughout the season🐢

Morning surveyors begin 2024 Sea Turtle Nesting patrol

Pre-season activities

We are eagerly awaiting the start of our local Sea Turtle Nesting season that begins May 1st on our beaches. In the meantime, our volunteers continue with education outreach opportunities.

We would like to once again thank Pompano Joe’s at Pier Park for their donation from the sale of their Turtle Brew and t-shirts. If you are in town, stop by to check out their specialty brew or pick up a t-shirt and our program will benefit from those purchases. Thank you Pompano Joe’s for your continued support of our program!

Pompano Joe’s Donation from Turtle Brew and T-shirt sales

Today, our volunteers setup an educational table at the April 20th Earth Day event in Panama City. Let’s remember every day, not just on Earth Day, to do what we can to protect our Mother Earth!

Display at Earth Day Celebration in Panama City

Next up, we plan to have several volunteers partner up with Gulf World Marine Institute on April 27th for their 3rd Annual “Making Turtle Tracks” (5K Fun Run/Walk), we hope you will join us for this great local event!

Our surveyors will then begin monitoring the beaches at sunrise beginning May 1st, if you see us out there, give us a wave!

We look forward to another great season, stay tuned here or on Facebook for more info as our season progresses.

2023 Season Summary

Our 2023 sea turtle season in PCB has come to a close. We’d like to thank all of our surveyors, volunteers, residents and visitors who played a role in the protection of the Loggerhead and Green sea turtles that we had on our beaches this summer.

While we had a record breaking number of green nests this year, our total hatchling production was down from last year primarily due to Hurricane Idalia’s visit to the Gulf leading to many of our nests receiving wash over and stopping the development of the eggs (or washing them out completely). We appreciate the help from our local police, code enforcement and our local lifeguards. We enjoyed the opportunity to share information about our program and sea turtles at local events, schools and excavations. We look forward to being ready to start our season again May 1, 2024!

Our 2023 nests are now found under History.

All work/photos conducted under MTP-038 and MTP-271

In Memory of Heather Bailey

2023 nesting green female, affectionately named Heather

PCB TW would like to give a special thanks to Jason Bailey (a Panama City resident) for making a generous donation to our program this year in memory of his late wife, Heather Bailey. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Heather during this difficult time. With this donation, we are honored to do what we can to educate PCB locals and visitors about sea turtle conservation and protection in Heather’s memory.

During our 2023 season, our volunteers had the chance to observe and tag a nesting green sea turtle. After having learned of Heather’s passing, we have given the name Heather to our only 2023 PCB tagged nesting female and we hope to see her again in future nesting seasons!

All work conducted under MTP-038.

Green hatchlings entering the Gulf at sunset the week we had an opportunity to host some of Heather’s family at some of our excavations

Hatching is winding down

We are reaching the end of our 2023 sea turtle nesting and hatching season. October 5th was a big morning for us as we found two green nests hatched! Nest 45 was located in the dunes and didn’t receive wash over so no surprise there with it hatching. Nest 44 was located mid beach and received wash over from Hurricane Idalia last month but still produced hatchlings! This was great to see after we have had numerous failed nests from wash over.

We’ll determine the success of each nest as we excavate nest 45 on Sunday Oct 8th and nest 44 on Monday Oct 9th. These may be the final successful hatches of the season. Will the results of these excavations help us cross the 2500+ hatchling mark for the season? Stay tuned to find out!

Following these excavations, we’ll have 4 nests remaining on the beach. We’ll give them a full 80 days from when they were laid for a chance to hatch but they may have stopped developing with the Hurricane Idalia wash over.

Photos and work conducted per MTP-038

Green hatchling heading to water from nest 45

Nest 44 with depression and hatchling tracks

Education Outreach

What else do our volunteers do when they aren’t on the beach protecting the sea turtles and nests? They spend time sharing information about our program, sea turtle species and ways we can all help protect them.

We appreciate the opportunity to recently visit Panama City Trilingual School to share this important information with them. The students were attentive and engaged as they listened to our volunteers and asked their questions.

Thank you to our volunteers for the many ways they contribute to our non-profit organization!

FWC MTP-038 allows for the possession of sea turtle specimens to use for educational purposes

Education Outreach Presentation

Students get a close look at our education outreach items

PCB nest impacts from Hurricane Idalia

First off our thoughts are with the cities and people in the path of Hurricane Idalia and all of the people that will be helping them recover and rebuild.

We are fortunate here in PCB to have only experienced high surf overnight causing the waves to push up to high beach. Our surveyors assessed all nests this morning and found that any nest not in the dunes had some or a lot of washover. Some or all of the stakes washed away from some nest areas. We have restaked/repaired the nest markings that we could and will give all nests on our beach a full 80 days from when they were laid in case the water slows the incubation.

The sea turtle nests can handle some amounts of water but they can not tolerate inundation or sitting in water, that stops the development of the egg. We will continue to monitor the nests and expect some of them may still hatch. Therefore, we’ll continue to announce excavations of hatched nests as they are scheduled. As we excavate unhatched nests we’ll post those results as well as we know some of you have a vested interest in some particular nests.

We won’t know the full impact of the storm until the season is over (when the last nest has hatched or 80 days from when the last nest is laid) but we will continue to monitor and hope we get to add to our 2023 hatchling count. To date we have had 46 nest, with 20 having hatched producing 1700+ hatchlings!

Morning survey found south stakes washed out, restaked

Morning survey found nest with heavy washover, likely won’t hatch at this point
Morning survey found light washover

Green hatchlings

Green hatchlings during daytime emergence

Our first green nest of the season has hatched and has been excavated! Beach goers received a surprise in the daytime when they witnessed 4 green hatchlings emerge from a newly formed depression in the peak afternoon heat! Fortunately, they notified PCB TW volunteers to ensure they reached the water following on their long crawl from the dunes.

Green hatchling swimming at surface, vulnerable to predators so we try to help every single one
Green hatchling swimming just below the surface

Later that evening, the full nest boiled and all of the hatchlings, in a much cooler time of night, made their way straight to the water.

In accordance with our FWC permit, we conducted an excavation of the nest 3 days later and found 4 live hatchlings in the chamber. Three of those hatchlings were entangled in roots from the dune vegetation in the first few inches of the chamber. This is not uncommon for nests laid in the dunes and fortunately we found them alive during the excavation. Another live hatchling was found among the 133 hatched egg shells about 24 inches deep! Overall the nest was very successful! Check out our Facebook live recording of Nest 18’s excavation on August 27 to see the hatchlings as they were found in the chamber, quite a relief to see the little flippers begin moving as they were freed from the roots!

Nest 18 sample contents include a hatched egg, unhatched egg, spacer egg and 4 live hatchlings
Green hatchlings are identified by their scute pattern on their carapace (their hard top shell)
Nest 18 eggs from excavation

As a reminder, sea oats are protected in Florida and are vital to our dune system. As volunteers we do our best to not disturb the sea oats and ask that you do the same if you encounter a nest in the dunes.

We’ll continue to monitor our remaining loggerhead and green nests for hatch activity and post excavations as we are able to schedule them for public attendance.

If you see a nesting or hatching sea turtle on the beach and volunteers aren’t present, please contact PCB non-emergency police at 850-233-5000 and they will contact our volunteers. Thank you for leaving the beach clean, dark and flat!

Photos taken under MTP-038