Sea turtles are nesting on the beaches along Florida's coast through the summer. Green sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles, and loggerhead sea turtles are the most common species found nesting on the state's beaches, but occasionally Kemp's ridley sea turtles or hawksbill sea turtles are found nesting in very small numbers, as well. All of these sea turtle species are designated as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The turtles crawl out of the rolling surf onto the beach and up to the dune area to dig into the soft sand. In a hole tediously dug with their hind appendages that more closely resemble flippers to legs, they lay eggs then cover them back up with meticulous care before lumbering back into the sea.
Leatherback turtles nest almost exclusively on the Atlantic coast of Florida. The largest of the sea turtles, leatherbacks can weigh between 700 and 2,000 pounds and be four to eight feet long. Females nest from April through July and will lay between six to nine nests per season. Each time they lay about 110 eggs, however only 80 of those are fertilized. The other unfertilized eggs cover the fertilized eggs to serve as protection from predators and regulates the nest temperature.
Green sea turtles nest from June through late September. Females lay three to five nests a year with about 128 eggs each time. They can lay as many as ten nests. Nearly every coastal county in Florida has recorded green turtle nests on their shores. Sea turtles typically weigh about 300 pounds and are about 3.3 feet long.
Florida is the primary location where loggerhead turtles nest with 90 percent of all nesting occurring on the state's beaches between April and September. In 2013, Brevard County recorded 24,630 loggerhead nests. Females lay four to seven nests about 14 days apart with 100 - 126 eggs per nest. Loggerhead adults weigh between 200 and 350 pounds and are 3 feet long and are the most common sea turtle found in Florida.
For more information about sea turtle nesting visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.