Leatherback sea turtle nests fail to hatch
SARASOTA-A Leatherback Sea Turtle nesting on the Suncoast excited scientists with the possibility the turtle was expanding its range, but the nests have brought some disappointment. Four nests ranging from Siesta Key to Venice were put in protective cages, but they still failed to hatch.
“None of the eggs showed any signs of hatch or development,” Bernhard said. “It’s possible that they were fertile, and they just didn’t get very far in their development so we just didn’t see the signs.”
But it’s more likely the eggs were never fertilized in the first place.
“They’re pretty much a more Atlantic or open ocean species,” Bernhard said. “So, it’s possible she got into the Gulf and never encountered a male, and came up to nest, and had to get rid of her eggs but never had encountered a male.”
Mote Senior Biologist Melissa Bernhard says many factors can leave eggs unhatched, but it’s usually not entire nests.
“Temperature plays a role heavily in their development,” Bernhard said. “Too hot, too cold, too much rain, not enough rain, or predators in the area.”
Mote Marine lab was able to tag the turtle to track where she goes in the future.
“If she comes back we may see her track again in two years or in three years,” Bernhard said. “Or maybe she’ll go back to the east coast and nest there.”
Bernhard says even with these nests not hatching, 2019 remains one of the most successful nesting seasons on the Suncoast.
“We have more loggerhead nests then ever before,” Bernhard said. “Obviously more leatherback nests than ever before, and the really big exciting one is more green nests then ever before, we have more than twice as many green nests documented this year than ever before.”
Sea Turtle nesting season runs through the end of October, so remember to keep the beaches clear for turtles and stay away from roped off areas.