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Turtle Webcam Records Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatch
in the Lower Florida Keys

Environmental enthusiasts have been able to observe loggerhead sea turtles hatching and emerging from their nests, via a live streaming "turtle webcam" installed on a private beach on Big Pine Key in the Lower Florida Keys.
 
The camera was funded by the Florida Keys Tourist Development Council and was focused on three separate loggerhead sea turtle nests. Nest #1 was expected to hatch between Aug. 17 and Aug. 25, yet no hatchlings emerged. Nest #2 hatched during the nighttime hours on Aug. 27. Due to natural predation by nearby raccoons, a small number of hatchlings were scavenged, yet 80 eggs hatched successfully. Unfortunately, a technical malfunction prevented video from being recorded, however a video of the nest's excavation is available for view below.

Nest #3 hatched during just before 9 p.m. on Sept. 1. A video recording of that hatch is in the viewer below.

Click the play button to watch video of the baby loggerhead sea turtles emerging from their nest just before 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 1. Though the nest seen above was bathed in natural light during daylight hours, at night the nest was illuminated by a cluster of infrared emitters that did not emit white light, so as not to disturb the turtles. Personnel from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission placed a metal grid over the nest to help prevent raccoons from burrowing before eggs hatch. However, turtle hatchlings were still able to get out to crawl to the ocean.



Permitted beach surveyors excavated Nest #2 and found 84 eggs. Of these, 80 hatched successfully and four were unfertilized.
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A live hatchling was discovered and released during the excavation of Nest #2.
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A live hatchling makes his way to the sea.
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After taking a few breaths of air, the hatchling dipped beneath the surface and started paddling to the sea.
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Click here to watch video of nest excavation.

Loggerhead, green, leatherback, hawksbill and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles nest on beaches in the Florida Keys and other parts of Florida, or inhabit Florida and Keys waters. All five species are considered either threatened or endangered.

A Kemp's ridley sea turtle.
Photo courtesy of Fish & Wildlife Commission

From mid-April through October each year, these turtles crawl ashore at night to dig their nests and lay eggs. A female turtle typically lays about 100 eggs and covers them with sand before returning to the water, leaving the nest alone.

Green sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea. Photo courtesy of Save-A-Turtle

Approximately two months later, the hatchlings struggle free of the nest and rush toward the sea, guided by moonlight reflecting off open water.

Any artificial light, including flashlights and flash cameras, can disturb and disorient the turtles, interrupting the natural process. Laws prohibit people from touching or disturbing hatchlings, nests and nesting turtles.

To read a brief description of the nesting process by author, editor and biologist Jim Gamlin, click here.

All marine turtle footage taken in Florida was obtained with the approval of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles.