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Sea Turtles at St. Andrews State Park|
hatchling, nest and tracks in the park
photos by Richard Wiles, Park Service Specialist, St. Andrews State Park
Sea Turtles are an endangered part of the marine life at St. Andrews State Park. The Friends and Staff are very concerned about their welfare. Should you see any turtles on the beach, please do not bother them, but find a park staff member to come rescue them. Turtles will lay eggs in nests they make on our beaches. It is vital that we do not disturb the nests. Please help us protect the sea turtles by keeping away from any nests you might see marked.
The Turtle Watch Program works during the nesting season to find, mark and monitor the nests, so that we can be sure the hatchlings make it to the water safely. Staff members, along with a few expertly trained volunteers, are checking Shell Island and the mainland beach each day for any signs of sea turtle tracks on the beaches.
During the 2007 nesting season, 8 nests on Shell Island and 2 nests on the mainland of the park between the gulf pier and the jetties were monitored. All the nests were loggerheads**. Only 9 of the 10 nests were evaluated because of total nest depredation by a canine at one nest. Five other nests were affected by predators but were not a total loss and staff got a pretty accurate account of the total number of eggs and hatchlings that emerged. The count was: 1050 eggs, 800 hatchlings that emerged, 27 live hatchlings found in nests and later released, 17 dead hatchlings in nests, 2 live piped*, 15 dead piped*, and of the un-hatched eggs there were 16 undamaged and 173 damaged. The first documented nest of the 2007 season was found on June 1, 2007 and the last was found on August 14, 2007. (Year 2007 nesting season information provided by Joseph Mocilan, Park Service Specialist, St. Andrews State Park).
* "Piped" refers to eggs where the turtle hatchling has broken through its eggshell, but has not fully emerged from the shell.
** Status: The loggerhead sea turtle (caretta caretta) is listed as threatened throughout its range (Federal Register, July 28, 1978).
source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sea Turtle Factsheet
For more information about sea turtles: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sea Turtle Information