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Another rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle spotted nesting on Destin-Fort Walton beaches

In a win for local wildlife conservation, a second Kemp’s ridley sea turtle has nested on the beaches of Destin-Fort Walton Beach this season. The rare and endangered species was spotted […]

Destin-Fort Walton Beach Sea Turtle Patrol

In a win for local wildlife conservation, a second Kemp’s ridley sea turtle has nested on the beaches of Destin-Fort Walton Beach this season. The rare and endangered species was spotted by beachgoers on Tuesday morning.

According to Jessica Valek, Okaloosa Coastal Resources Coordinator, the turtle was reported around 9 a.m., but had already returned to the water by the time the team arrived on the scene. However, witnesses described the turtle as quite large, and upon inspecting the nesting site, Valek confirmed it had all the characteristics of a Kemp’s ridley nest.

  • “Kemp ridleys tend to be a lot lighter, weight-wise, than our loggerheads,” explained Valek. “When I saw the crawl, I noticed that not a lot of sand was disturbed. 

Valek asked the beachgoers if they had any photos and videos of the sea turtle and they did. The patrol team was able to confirm that it was another Kemp’s ridley nest.

  • “I saw videos of her digging her egg chamber and laying her eggs, so it is for sure a Kemp’s ridley nest,” Valek said.

That makes two nests so far for Destin-Fort Walton Beach this sea turtle nesting season and both of them happen to be Kemp’s ridleys. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the most endangered species of sea turtle and do not typically nest on the beaches of Destin-Fort Walton Beach.

While it is unclear if this turtle is the same individual that nested a few weeks ago, Valek believes they are likely different based on some distinguishing characteristics. The nesting site has been marked off and will be monitored daily by the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Sea Turtle Patrol.

The DFWB Sea Turtle Patrol reminds the public to maintain clean, flat, and dark beaches to support sea turtle conservation. If you encounter a nesting sea turtle, please call the Sea Turtle Hotline at 850-461-2885 or the FWC Wildlife Hotline at 888-404-3922. Red turtle-friendly flashlights are available at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Welcome Center on Okaloosa Island.

All survey, nest marking, and monitoring activities are conducted under Marine Turtle Permit #251.

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