'Fair' turtle season sees challenges, mysteries

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A collection of hatchlings are ready to make the trip out to sea.

South Walton Turtle Watch
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 14:38 PM.

Official "turtle season" is more than half-way over and the little hatchlings are making their way to the Gulf ... well, most of them anyway.

South Walton Turtle Watch head Sharon Maxwell calls this year a "fair" season as far as nest count goes.

During a usual turtle season walkers will find 35 to 40 nests. This year there are 55 — not the banner year last year saw with a record 97 nests, but certainly decent.

The mamas are done coming in to lay for this year, said Maxwell, and all that is left to do is watch them hatch and count them as they flee toward the sea.

So far, 20 nests are out of the ground and 15 of those have hatched and been counted. Some, such as nest 11, got washed out because of the large amount of rainfall we have seen and our low-lying beaches.

This year has seen a high number of false crawls, where the mother comes ashore to nest, but for whatever reason, goes back out without laying. Maxwell believes the 31 false crawls this year were due to white-light-emitting flashlights on the beach at night. If a mother encounters obstacles left on the beach at night that get in her way, those will also make her turn around and head back out without laying eggs.

Also unusual this year is that all 55 nests have been loggerheads. While loggerheads are the usual frontrunner in numbers, South Walton normally sees some Greens and a Kemp's Ridley or two.



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