Alabama Sea Turtle Years in Review:

2020

  • 99 nests on Alabama beaches. (13.2% fewer nests than in 2019 and 57.9% fewer than our most active season in 2016)

  • One nest was confirmed to be a Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

  • All other nests that were capable of being surveyed were confirmed to be Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

  • A record 8 storm systems, 6 hurricanes and 2 tropical storms, impacted Alabama sea turtle nesting habitat, resulting in the complete loss of 38 nests and inundation of many more

  • More hatchings successfully made it to the water in 2020 than in 2019 (3,597 hatchlings in 2019 vs 3,871 hatchlings in 2020)

 

2019

  • 114 nests were documented on Alabama beaches

  • One of the 114 total nests was laid by a green turtle, with the remaining 113 nests those of loggerhead sea turtles

  • An estimated 7,037 eggs were laid on our beaches in 2019, with an average clutch size of 103.6 eggs per nest

  • Approximately 3,597 hatchlings successfully made it to the water 

  • Average incubation period was 56 days for this season

  • Tropical Storm Barry impacted Alabama beaches from July 11-14, impacting 66 nests (57.9%) 

  • 17 adult female sea turtles and hatchlings from 7 nests were disoriented due to artificial lighting

 

2018

  • 92 nests were documented on Alabama’s beaches. All but one (Kemp's ridley) were laid by loggerhead sea turtles

  • The average incubation period was 56.6 days and the average clutch size was 109 eggs

  • Out of an estimated 6,623 eggs laid on our beaches, approximately 4,829 hatchlings successfully made it to the Gulf of Mexico. 

  • 32 nests were negatively impacted by storm events, with 15 of those nests completely washed away

 

2017

  • From a total of 178 nests there were 43 nests inundated by storms and 9 infertile nests

  • There were an estimated 18,716 eggs laid this year

  • The 126 nests that hatched yielded 11,528 hatchlings of which 10,718 made the trek to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico

  • The Average Incubation Time of the viable nests was 59.4 days and the Average Clutch Size was 105.1 eggs

  • A new hatching protocol was implemented on selected nests to help identify the percentage of disorientations caused by human impacts. Data collected at these nests will aide USF&WS in addressing the problem and perhaps increasing the hatchling success rate in the future

 

2016

  • The 2016 nesting / hatching season was a record breaker for the Alabama coast.  A total of 237 nests were located on the beaches of Alabama in 2016

  • Four of these nests were confirmed as Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) while the rest were Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta)

  • Data gathered indicate that 22,240 eggs were laid on the beach, yielding 15,035 viable hatchlings of which 14,104 hatchlings made it to the Gulf of Mexico

  • The average incubation time for all viable nests was 56.9 days with an average nest size of 102.3 eggs

  • 70 nests were lost to natural storm events

 

2015

  • 114 sea turtle nests (109 loggerhead nests, and 5 of undetermined species) and 65 false crawls were documented on Alabama beaches. However, 8 false crawls that were later determined to be nests 

  • The first nest was documented on May 15th, 2015 and the last nest on August 17th, 2015

  • The average incubation period was 57.9 days and the average clutch size was 105 eggs

  • Data gathered indicate that 11,873 eggs were laid on the beach, yielding 8,006 viable hatchlings of which 7,883 hatchlings made it to the Gulf of Mexico

 

2014

  • The Loggerhead and Kemps Ridley sea turtle females produced a total of 80 nests during the 2014 season

  • 7 of those nests were infertile and 3 other nests were lost to storms

  • The remaining 70 nests produced 6,666 hatchlings that successfully found their way to the Gulf of Mexico waters

  • The survival rate of 75.22% is the best survival rate since the 2010 BP oil spill

  • The last nest hatched on October 23rd, 2014

 

2013

  • 81 nests were found on the Alabama Gulf Coast

  • While there were eight nests lost to heavy thunderstorms and high tides, the remaining 70 nests produced 4,939 hatchlings and of those, 4,857 were released into the Gulf of Mexico

  • The survival of hatchlings (number to water/number of eggs) is estimated to be 62.92 percent

  • The last nest of 2013 was successfully hatched on Oct. 29

 

2012

  • Female sea turtles laid a record-breaking 149 nests with at least 13,300 eggs accounted for in 2012

  • Volunteers saw more than 7,200 new hatchlings safely to the gulf’s surf

 

2011

  • A total of 84 nests were accounted for on the Alabama Gulf Coast

  • More than a dozen loggerheads were fitted with transmitting tracking devices by a Share the Beach team authorized by the U.S. Geological Survey

  • More than 3,800 hatchlings made their way to the gulf

 

2010

  • Share the Beach volunteers worked extra hard during the 2010 nesting season to protect hatchlings and their nests during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill event

  • Oil began leaking into the Gulf of Mexico approximately 50 miles south of Louisiana. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed new criteria for monitoring sea turtle nests. Turtle nest surveys were conducted in front of nighttime cleanup crews when oil began coming ashore in Alabama

  • Forty-one loggerhead nests and two Kemp’s ridley nests were located. As hatching neared, the USFWS determined it was too dangerous for the hatchlings to be released into the gulf until more oil cleanup had taken place

  • As the nests matured, 16 were transported to Cape Canaveral, FL via FedEx with an estimated 1,261 hatchlings released into the Atlantic Ocean

  • Three nests were released off the Florida Panhandle and 24 were allowed to hatch on Alabama’s beaches

  • Approximately 1,365 hatchlings entered the Gulf of Mexico

Alabama Sea Turtle Nesting Season Facts:

 

Sea turtle patrols begin each year May 1 and end August 31. The season continues through October 31, monitoring any remaining nests. The turtles lay an average of 110 eggs per nest with an incubation period of 55 to 70 days.

Share the Beach volunteers monitor all 47 miles of Alabama’s beach-front coastline, devoting their time to searching for new nests, marking them and protecting the nests and hatchlings from natural and human-related dangers. Between 2010 and 2020, an estimated 70,786 hatchlings have made it to the water from Alabama’s beaches.

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Alabama Sea Turtle Hotline:

1-866-Sea-Turtle (1-866-732-8878)

Share the Beach Director: Sara Johnson

sjohnson@joinACF.org

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Since 1993, the Alabama Coastal Foundation (ACF) has worked to promote a culture where environmental decisions are based on an accurate understanding of the underlying science, the dissemination of factual information, and the engagement of government, industry and citizens to find solutions to Alabama's coastal environmental challenges. We bring that vision into reality through our inclusive environmental stewardship approach.

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