Safer sea turtles hatching now on webcam

Five species of sea turtles nest in Florida.
Five species of sea turtles nest in Florida, including the elegant hawksbill.

Sea turtles rock the world, and a dedicated webcam in the Florida Keys is watching them 24/7 until they hatch. Have they popped out yet? The babies are expected to emerge from their mother’s sand pit this week. The webcam buzz follows on the heels of good news for loggerhead turtles, a federally threatened species, which just earned the designation of beaches across the southeastern U.S. as critical habitat.

New critical habitat to protect loggerhead sea turtles covers beaches in five states.
New critical habitat to protect loggerhead sea turtles covers beaches in six states.

The Turtle Nest Cam is a great way to highlight Florida’s sea turtle nesting season, which runs roughly for half of the year from March to October. After the laborious task of nesting on a beach, the mother abandons her nest. The 100 or so eggs take nearly two months to incubate, and then the babies must fend for themselves. The webcam’s nest must have been laid around mid-May.

This interactive map from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute gives you a statewide perspective of where sea turtles are nesting in Florida, which ranks as the top nesting location in the Western hemisphere for loggerhead turtles. Five of the world’s sea turtle species nest in Florida, and all species are threatened.

In my humble opinion, sea turtles should be the state animal of Florida. They receive a fair amount of attention and protection within the state, although Miami-Dade County remains a coastal exception by not offering a county-wide ordinance  to protect them from harmful lighting near beaches.

If you can’t visit the beach soon, enjoy the webcam. Warning: it could happen at any time, and very likely after dark. Turtles function on their own, mysterious schedule, and we’re just bystanders, waiting and watching.

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