The 2020 sea turtle nesting season started like every other. March 1 arrived, and our sea turtle conservation team began the daily task of surveying Boca Raton’s five miles of beach at sunrise, looking for sea turtle tracks. After only a few weeks into the season, the coronavirus pandemic began, and our nature center and local beaches closed. Sea turtles, however, continued nesting and our staff did not miss a morning covering our five miles.
We are often asked “how did the pandemic and beach closures affect sea turtle nesting?” It really did not have much of an effect at all. If anything, when the beaches were closed to the public, nesting sea turtles had more privacy. Consequently, we saw slightly fewer false crawls (non-nesting emergences) during that time.
sea turtle nest on the beach being marked by a woman kneeing on the sand.
Since 1988, Boca Raton has averaged 828 total nests per year. In 2020 we had 901 nests (756 loggerhead, 132 green, 13 leatherback). Unfortunately, over one hundred were lost. About 80% of lost nests were due to storms and high tides, the other 20% were predators such as foxes and raccoons. This season, we inventoried 586 nests. On average, we found that 52% of the eggs in each nest hatched. The other 48% of eggs were either dead embryos, infertile eggs, or eggs lost to predators. The average clutch size of each nest was 98.2 eggs. So, 901 total nests x 98.2 = 88,478 total eggs, 46,009 of which hatched! Sea turtle nesting season officially ended on October 31, but our team continued to monitor the beach through mid-November because the last nest of the season was still incubating and did not hatch until November 16. During the offseason our team reviews and verifies the season’s data and sends it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who compiles all data from Florida to better understand statewide nesting trends and to make management decisions. We look forward to sunrise on March 1, 2021, when we will be back on the beach to do it all over again!
February Virtual Programs
Appreciation Days at Gumbo Limbo – Wetlands and Wildlife
Join us on Facebook Live as we celebrate the well-known and the not-so-well-known National Appreciation Days! Join us for a live program from local wetlands where we will join in the celebration of National Wetlands Day. We will explore the site for wading birds, reptiles, and insects of the wetlands, and learn how to help researchers by documenting these animals where we see them, even in our own backyard.
Tuesday, February 2, 11:00 am
Recommended for all ages.
The Science of Nature
Join us on Facebook Live for a naturalist guided lesson on coastal ecology topics.
Recommended for ages 10-adult.
Sunday, February 14, 10:00 am
Little Wonders and Nature Detectives
Join us, at your convenience, for a virtual nature exploration. This pre-recorded monthly program includes a nature lesson, story-time videos, and a free craft kit. Visit our website on (or after) February 20 to follow along with our craft demonstration and enjoy a read-aloud story time.
Call 561-544-8612 to reserve your free craft kit, available for scheduled pickup. Supplies are limited. Ask about craft packets from previous months!
Ages 3-4 and 5-6. Free!
Who’s afraid of the dark? Join our staff for a virtual tour of Gumbo Limbo after dark, monthly on Facebook Live for the entertaining, after-hours antics as we delight you with an up-close and personal virtual visit to Gumbo Limbo after dark!
Friday, February 26, 6:30 pm
Recommended for ages 8-adult.
At Home with Gumbo Limbo
At Gumbo Limbo we love our sea turtles, but we also love other animals just as much. We have created fun and educational activities for your kids and the family to do together in your own backyard and home. Visit At Home with Gumbo Limbo for at-home fun!
Beachcombing Gumbo Limbo Style!
This self-guided adventure will give you both the knowledge and incentive to get out, enjoy the beach, find cool natural treasures, and help wildlife all at the same time. Available anytime on our website.
Recommended for all ages. Free!