Interview with a Sea Turtle
By Silvie Berkeley
Sea turtles are marine reptiles that have existed since their giant land turtle ancestors returned to the sea sometime during the age of Dinosaurs. The Loggerhead is the most common marine turtle found on Naples beaches. Adults can be recognized by their reddish-brown carapace that is elongated and heart-shaped, and by the large head and broad jaws. There are accounts of giant Loggerheads weighing up to 1.000 pounds. Nowadays however, they rarely attain half that size. Like all other species of sea turtles, Loggerheads are a highly threatened species!
Sea turtle populations have been seriously reduced worldwide through a number of human influences. Over-developed coastal areas have reduced natural nesting habitats. Capture of adult turtles for eggs, meat, leather, and tortoise shell has decreased breeding populations, incidental capture of adults in fishing nets and shrimp trawls has brought one species, the Kemp's Ridley, right to the brink of extinction. For these reasons all species of sea turtles are protected.
Nesting season begins in April and continues through early September. With rare exceptions the nests are deposited at night. If undisturbed the females leave the water and crawl up the beach to a point well above the high tide line. There, using her rear flippers, she digs an egg chamber cavity about 8 inches in diameter and about 18 inches deep. After a brief rest, she fills the hole with about 100 or more golfball-sized eggs, gently covers the eggs with sand and then spreads the sand over a wide area with her front flippers to obscure the exact location of the chamber. She then leaves the nest site and reenters the water. Since adult sea turtles do not nurture their hatchling the female never sees the nest site again. A single female may nest several times during a season and then not nest again for one or two years. Male sea turtles never leave the ocean!
Incubation of the nests takes about 50-55 days. Baby sea turtles hatch together, and then the whole gang bursts from the nest at the same moment, thereby giving predators less chance to pick them off one at a time. They tend to hatch at times when they are less vulnerable, often at night, and especially during rain. They waste no time and enter the surf within minutes. However, if artificial lights illuminate the beach the hatchlings will be disoriented, travel in the wrong direction and possibly never make it to the water.
Once in the water the hatchlings swim directly out to sea, facing a perilous struggle to survive to adulthood. The best scientific estimates available indicate that only one in 1.000 to 10.000 hatchlings will survive (anywhere from 12 - 50 years ) to become a reproducing and nesting adult sea turtle!
THE BEST DEFENSE TURTLES HAVE IS YOUR CONSCIENCE !!!!
Collier's Reserve is a natural! Let's not take it for granted!
-The Natural Resources Group