Tag Archives: turtles

Leatherback hatchlings from last Summer

Summer has arrived in south Florida

Our cooler weather here in south Florida did not last long. We have slipped right into summer conditions. Temperatures today have reached 86F/30C with a relative humidity of 56%. They are predicting another cold front by Sunday. The cool dry air will not last long. After this next cold front, we probably will not see drier air until the middle of October again. Humidity and temperatures will start climbing before the end of March so it is time to explore the beaches and enjoy the sea breeze.

Turtle season runs from March thru October in south Florida

Sea turtle season has also started. The season runs from March until the end of October. Thousands of turtles will soon start arriving on east coast beaches to lay eggs. We had a record season last year. My first encounter with nesting sea turtles occurred a few years ago. I was lucky to be on the beach at the end of the day when a female leatherback turtle weighing hundreds of pounds crawled onto the beach and started digging a nest. The three main species that nest in Florida are leatherback, loggerhead, and green sea turtles. Florida’s most common variety of sea turtle is the loggerhead which averages over 200 lb/90 kg. The leatherback is much bigger and reaches 1,540 lb/700 kg.

Last summer while searching for fish near the water’s edge, I noticed the biologists running in their all terrain vehicles up and down the beach. They conduct surveys of the turtle nests during the season. One of the scientists, stopped her all terrain vehicle and started digging in the sand not far from where I was standing. The images below tell the rest of the story. If you are lucky you might find a leatherback next time you go to the beach. Don’t forget that plastic is deadly to turtles and other animals. Bring a bag with you to the beach and haul out some plastic trash.

 

biologist digs a turtle nest

Research biologist digs out a turtle nest

 

leatherback turtle eggs and nest

Turtle eggs are soft shelled and are buried deep in the sand

leatherback hatchling

Just out of the nest and facing a long way to the water’s edge

leatherback flippers

Notice the large well developed flippers on this leatherback

biologists survey turtle nest

The nest must be covered after the inspection

leatherback turtle hatchlings

These two turtles are reaching the water’s edge

Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge

The Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge

Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge is an important sea turtle nesting habitat

Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge is divided into two areas bisected by the Indian River Lagoon. The refuge is located 20 miles north of West Palm Beach in Martin County, Florida. The oceanfront section is a 735 acre tract on Jupiter island. This stretch of beach provides some of the most productive sea turtle nesting habitat in the United States. Earlier last summer I was fortunate to discover some turtle “activity”. More about turtles on my next blog post. I am sure you will love it. The other section of the refuge is a 300 acre sand pine scrub tract that is highly valued because so much of this natural area has been lost to development in Florida. I have yet to explore this other section of the refuge. I am much more interested on the beach side. In addition to turtle nests, you can find a variety of birds that migrate here throughout the year. I am not a bird photographer and I lack the necessary equipment for capturing images of birds in flight. That may change soon as I discover more interesting birds.

 

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Un habitat importante para las tortugas marinas

El refugio de vida silvestre de Hobe Sound esta dividido en dos secciones. El Indian River Lagoon divide el sector de la playa y el sector del breñal en el interior. Esta segunda región se compone principalmente de un bosque templado de coníferos. La reserva se encuentra a unos 32 km de West Palm Beach en el condado de Martin en Florida. La seccion de la playa tiene un area de 300 hectareas y se encuentra en el extremo norte de Jupiter island. Este estrecho de playa es uno de los habitats mas importantes para la reproduccion de tortugas marinas en Estados Unidos. Durante el verano pasado pude observar muchas tortugas en esta playa. Luego publico mas acerca de estas tortugas. La otra seccion del refugio consiste de 120 hectareas pobladas por pinos y palmeras. Esta otra seccion del refugio representa un tipo de habitat que practicamente ha desaparecido en la Florida. Tengo que explorar este otro lado luego ya que siempre termino cruzando a la playa. Ademas de tortugas, podran encontrar varias especies de ave que migran por aqui. No soy un fotografo de aves y no tengo el equipo necesario para tomar fotos de pajaros en vuelo. Eso puede cambiar pronto ya que las aves son un mundo interesante por si solo.