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90 loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the Gulf from Destin beach

Over 7 dozen tiny loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerged from their nest in the middle of the night last week and crawled their way safely to the Gulf of Mexico […]

Emerald Coast Turtle Watch

Over 7 dozen tiny loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerged from their nest in the middle of the night last week and crawled their way safely to the Gulf of Mexico waters along a Destin beach.

  • According to Okaloosa Coastal Resource Coordinator Jessica Valek, 90 hatchlings from a monitored nest successfully hatched on Wednesday night, August 23rd, and managed to make the trek from their nest to the water completely unaided. 

The nest, which contained 93 eggs total, had been laid a couple months ago on the beach in front of the Aegean Condominiums in Destin. When the team came back to evaluate the nest 72 hours after the mass hatching, they found only 3 unhatched eggs remaining.

This equates to an impressive 97% hatching success rate for the nest.

Emerald Coast Turtle Watch

“It’s really exciting to see a hatch success rate this high,” said Valek. “The last nest that we evaluated had a much lower hatch success rate. This 97% hatch rate is what we want to see and is very promising.”

According to Valek, this nest didn’t experience any sort of disturbance, such as getting washed over by waves. It also didn’t experience any significant temperature swings. 

  • “Typically, when a nest has good conditions the entire time, we hope to see these high percent hatches, and we did with this one,” she added. “It gives us hope for the next few nests that we have and are monitoring.”
Emerald Coast Turtle Watch

Valek thanked Aegean Condominiums for allowing her team to utilize their beach access and thanked the guests for keeping the beaches clean, flat, and dark which allowed those hatchlings to safely make their way to the Gulf.

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.

All of the nest evaluation work conducted by this group is permitted through the FWC Marine Turtle Program under MTP# 23-033. Disoriented hatchlings should be reported immediately to the FWC by calling 1-888-404-FWCC.

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