Palm Beach County coasts are some of the most densely turtle nested areas in the country. 3 species are recorded here:
The loggerheads (Caretta caretta) are the most common species in Florida. They can weigh up to 350 pounds (158 kg) and measure around 3 feet (0,90 m). They are omnivores but feed mainly on invertebrates, such as, gastropods, bivalves, crabs and lobsters.
The leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest of all living turtles. They can weigh up to 2,000 pounds (907 kg) and reach over 6 -7 feet (1,82 m – 2,2 m). They can be easily distiguished because they do not have a bony shell but a carapace covered by dark grey to black skin with an oily flesh. They feed mostly on jellyfish helping keep this species population under control.
Finally, the green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) can weigh up to 450 pounds (204 kg) and can reach 5 feet (1,5 m) in length. They are called this because of the green fat found beneath their caparace and are herbivores.
The turtles start arriving to the beaches in March, but the number continues to increase from May until September. Only in the northern county beaches, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center records around 10,000 nests each year. During quiet walks in the night, it is not uncommon to see turtles crawling ashore, digging a nest to deposit around 110 ping pong ball sized eggs. They then return to the water after this 1 to 3 hour process. The turtles are vulnerable while laying their eggs and can be easily frightened away if disturbed. Therefore, it is forbidden to take pictures with a flash, use cameras or phones with LCD screens, and use flashlights. Observing patiently is the best way to enjoy this amazing moment, especially on fullmoon nights.
If you want to know more about turtle nesting, take a look at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website or the marine turtle conservation guidelines for basic information. Also, read this site if you want to know how to help protect the species in a very easy way.
Blog by Ana Castanosa
If you want to watch turtles from our recent dives, please feel free to watch and enjoy the video here.
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