Tuesday, September 17, 2019

High Count of Sea Turtle Disorientations in Marco Highest In the County


On Marco Island’s central beach and on Sand Dollar Island, sea turtle hatchlings are beginning to emerge. As of July 23, 2019, there were 20 total hatched nests recorded, and three hatchling disorientations. For July 30th, two more light disorientations were reported from the South Seas and Tradewinds condominiums.

The following is a report from Tyler Beck, sea turtle monitor for Marco Island beaches, for the morning of July 25th:

The 12 hatchlings were all found in the vegetation around the boardwalk between the Marbelle and Sandpiper – though two were found on the beach: one hatchling was going towards the water from the vegetation in front of the Sandpiper; and the other hatchling going due North on the beach along the vegetation parallel to the water.

A total of 13 live hatchlings were found (the 1st found was immediately released). This was before I realized there were others) and two hatchling bodies were discovered as well with their faces gnawed off – most likely by rats.

Mary Nelson reported the disorientation to MIPD and three vehicles responded that morning (July 25th). We expressed concern with lighting issues in this section of the beach, as this is the second nest disorientation here within a week.

We released the recovered hatchlings on Thursday evening and we stayed on the beach to observe beach lighting. We discovered that the pool lighting on the Sandcastle buildings reflects quite brightly off the sides of the buildings, and this is exactly the direction that hatchling tracks from both nest lead towards.

According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, about 90% of all sea turtles nesting in the United States takes place on Florida beaches, and the loss of one hatchling caused by bright lights represents a major obstacle in the recovery of the sea turtle population in the United States. If the hatchlings successfully reach the surf, experts say only one out of a thousand will survive to adulthood under natural conditions.

As part of his routine, every morning Tyler collects data of the obstacles he finds on the beach and notes their quantity and location. Tyler shared his findings with the author.

Recreational equipment left on the beach from May 3 – July 13, 2019:

  • Tents: 17
  • Beach Chairs: 73
  • Beach towels, toys, inflatables and trash were too numerous to count!


Yesi Olvera has been patrolling the beach with Mary Nelson for the past three years. All monitors check for false crawls, footprints of disorientation and footprints of mature sea turtles coming ashore to nest. They also check more than 86 nests currently recorded in Marco Island.

Mary’s passion for the protection of sea turtles has been known to Marco’s residents for over 25 years. She is trying to take it easy and usually patrols the beach over the weekends and whenever she is needed. Mary said she can’t ever imagine not being involved with sea turtles.

Meet Marco’s New Sea Turtle Monitors

Photos by Maria Lamb |
Per the July 23rd Sea Turtle Weekly Report, Marco reported three hatchling disorientations.

One response to “High Count of Sea Turtle Disorientations in Marco Highest In the County”

  1. Andrew Tyler says:

    How disappointing to learn of such high losses. Having attended one anticipated hatching close to the Somerset property I was surprised to see how much background light was still visible after dark despite the ordinance. I would appeal to our fellow beach front residents to give the hatchlings every chance. If they survive then in twenty years or so they’ll be back to visit you and your heirs. Living in the dark can be a good thing , and it’s a short season for hatching.

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