Sea turtle nesting season underway on Fort Myers Beach

Published: June 28, 2022 4:55 PM EDT
Updated: June 29, 2022 3:15 PM EDT

It’s sea turtle nesting season in Southwest Florida.

A volunteer with the non-profit Turtle Time said it’s rare to see a sea turtle nesting but a man who lives on Fort Myers Beach hit the jackpot when he saw a turtle lay her eggs and walk back to the ocean.

Scott Safford walks his dog Mac every morning.

Most mornings include a quiet stroll along the water, but last week he got a thrill.

“We came out, we saw quite a number of people, which is unusual. So, we walked over,” Safford said.

That’s where he got to watch a turtle laying her eggs. Safford took out his phone and hit record.

“We’re so blessed just to even see a turtle track. But to actually see a turtle making her nest was just, it’s just once in a lifetime experience, was incredible,” Safford said.

Cindy Johnson, a volunteer at Turtle Time, said the most important thing anyone can do when witnessing a turtle nesting is to stay away.

“You just don’t want to distract them from what they’re doing, they could get spooked very easily,” Johnson said.

Johnson said it’s OK to follow the turtle back to the water and watch her swim away.

That’s exactly what Safford did.

“It’s an experience you don’t get to see very often nor share with people, so it was really a community feeling,” he said.

According to Turtle Time, there are currently 72 nests on Fort Myers Beach, which is a good number and they will be hatching soon.

Johnson said this particular turtle had trouble digging her nest.

“It could take over an hour for a turtle to drag their bodies up onto the beach to nest. And then, the process of digging the nest with her back flippers,” Johnson said.

Johnson said an increase in nesting beach temperatures could have an impact on sea turtles. Eggs in warmer sand tend to become females. Eggs in cooler sand produce male hatchlings.

Scientists worry if there are significantly more female than male hatchlings that might threaten genetic diversity.

But Turtle Time said nesting is happening as usual on Fort Myers Beach.