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Encouraging Surprises Mark Turtle Nesting Time in the Gulf of Mexico

Posted On July 6, 2012 by

Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling by Jacey Biery

There is nothing more satisfying than when wonderful surprises turn up in unexpected places — like a $5 bill left in your blue jeans, or loggerhead sea turtles in Mississippi. Wait, what?

Yep. After an absence of 20 some odd years, two loggerhead sea turtle nests on Mississippi’s coast have scientists scratching their heads over what Institute for Marine Mammal Studies executive director Dr. Moby Solangi is calling a “very important and significant phenomena.”

Experts are not sure why these turtles chose to nest on the Mississippi coast this year. Whether due to a loss of ideal habitat in other areas, or competition for prime nesting space, this year is an usual one for sea turtles in the Gulf.

Not to be outdone by Mississippi, Alabama’s beaches are also experiencing an uptick in turtle traffic. Check out this recent article in the Mobile Press-Register about higher than normal numbers of turtles nesting on the sugar white sands of Alabama.  Share the Beach volunteers in Alabama are working overtime to mark and protect the nests to ensure that as many sea turtles as possible make it to the Gulf, hopefully to return one day to the same beach to start a family of their own!

Habitat loss and human activity are two of the biggest threats to that happening. In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon disaster oiled miles of nesting habitat in the Gulf, and of course many turtles were harmed or killed by oil, making every acre of habitat and every egg laid precious.

What you can do to help:

  1. Support restoration in the Gulf. Ample nesting habitat is critical to sea turtles. And because they return to the same spot they hatched to lay their own eggs, we need to conserve and protect habitat for the long haul. From Florida to Texas, the health of sea turtle populations relies on our dedication and effort to protect them both in and out of the water.
  2. Share the Beach! When you head out to the beach for a little R&R, remember that you aren’t the only one enjoying the sand and surf. Turn off all outside lights at your hotel or condo at night. After hatching, sea turtles are guided into the water by the light of the moon and artificial lighting can confuse them.
  3. Don’t leave trash on the beach. Whatever you bring to the beach, take it with you or dispose of it properly.
  4. If you see a nest, don’t disturb it. It’s not only against the law, it’s not very nice.

Nesting season runs through October. Hopefully we will continue to bring you glad turtle tidings from the Gulf.