Dozens of tiny loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings began to emerge from their nest on a Destin beach late last week and made their way safely to the Gulf of Mexico waters.
- According to Okaloosa County Coastal Resource Coordinator Jessica Valek, 67 hatchlings from a monitored nest hatched on Friday night and managed to crawl unassisted from their nest to the water.
When Valek came back to evaluate the nest this past Tuesday night, she found three additional live hatchlings remaining in the nest. She used the three turtles and the empty eggs as an educational opportunity for a crowd of onlookers before releasing the hatchlings into the Gulf.
- In an announcement post on social media, Okaloosa County wrote, “Witnessing sea turtle hatchlings making their way from the nest to the shoreline is a gift but remember to keep your distance. It doesn’t take much to hamper their chances of survival.”
In total, Valek’s team counted 133 eggs in the nest.
According to her, this is just one of 11 monitored loggerhead nests currently on Destin and Okaloosa Island beaches. Valek and the county’s Coastal Resource Team work diligently to protect sea turtles and educate the public.
“This has been an exciting season for us. We have double the number of nests that we had last year,” said Valek. “And we still have 11 nests that we are monitoring on our beaches so hopefully we will still have continued hatching success!
If you are fortunate enough to witness hatchlings emerging, it’s important not to interfere and give them space. The County offered these tips:
- Watch from a distance.
- Allow them to crawl to the water on their own.
- Leave them in their nest.
- Keep all lights off: this includes phone flashlights and flash photography or videos.
Disoriented hatchlings should be reported immediately to the FWC by calling 1-888-404-FWCC.