Alabama Sea Turtle Nesting Season Facts

TurtleEggs-Nesting Stats Pic

In May of each year, female sea turtles make their way onto the beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast to lay their eggs. The turtles lay an average of 110 eggs per nest with an incubation period of 55 to 70 days.

Share the Beach volunteers monitor several areas of Alabama’s coastline, devoting their time to searching for new nests, marking them and protecting the nests and hatchlings from natural and human-related dangers. From 2003 to 2013, more than an estimated 40,000+ hatchlings have safely entered the Gulf of Mexico from Alabama’s beaches.

Alabama Sea Turtle Year in Review

2016

The 2016 nesting / hatching season was a record breaker for the Alabama coast.  From the 2016 Alabama Sea Turtle Nesting Summary Report of the Share the Beach program:

“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 kempi( 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. This was a hatchling success rate of 67.91% and a survival rate of 63.71%.” [clip..] “The average incubation time for all viable nests was 56.9 days with an average nest size of 102.3 eggs.”

Although there was a large increase in the number of nests laid, there were a total of 66 nests lost to water inundation caused by tidal surge from Hurricane Hermine and other storm events.  An additional 4 nests were lost to predation. That still does not overshadow the tremendous success of this exceptional nesting season.

2015

In 2015, 114 sea turtle nests (109 loggerhead nests, and 5 of undetermined species) and 65 false crawls were documented on Alabama beaches. There were 8 false crawls that were later determined to be nests. Thus the final count was 114 nests and 57 false crawls. 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. Once again disorientations from lights in condos and houses along with manmade hazards contribute to false crawls and hatchling survivability.

2014

The Loggerhead and Kemps Ridley sea turtle females produced a total of 80 nests during the 2014 season. Even though 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. Once again there were many threats on our beaches to the survival of these little hatchlings. Along with the natural hazards of depredation by ghost crabs, foxes and coyotes and loss to summer tropical storms and high tides, there were too many man made (and avoidable) hazards. Among these were: beach chairs, tents, umbrellas and other beach equipment blocking the nesting females, disorientations of both nesting females and hatchlings from artificial lighting on the beach, and – worst of all – human vandalism. The last nest hatched on October 23rd, 2014.

2013

Share the Beach reported a successful season in 2013, with 81 nests 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. Threats to nesting included the inundation to nests by thunderstorms and the resulting high tides, beach cleaning, public-use disturbance to turtle crawls, vandalism, artificial lighting disorientation and obstructions to nesting females. 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. Even with a tropical storm and a hurricane off the coast during hatching season, 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, making 2011 a banner year for Alabama’s endangered sea turtles. More than a dozen loggerheads were fitted with transmitting tracking devices by a Share the Beach team authorized by the U.S. Geological Survey. Tropical Storm Lee caused the destruction of several nests, but still 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, Fla. 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.

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How Are They Doing? Seasonal Statistics

The patrol season starts May 1 and continues till August 31. Nest hatching continues until October 31. Statistical data from individual nests will be added as information is entered into our database.

Alabama Point - I


Dauphin Island - J
IDDate Found# Eggs1st Emergence# to Water# HatchedSurvival %
2017 J-1 06/06/2017
2017 J-2 06/10/2017
2017 J-3 06/13/2017
2017 J-4 06/14/2017 08/09/2017
2017 J-5 06/26/2017 08/14/2017
2017 J-6 07/03/2017
2017 J-7 07/03/2017
2017 J-8 07/18/2017
2017 J-9 07/22/2017
2017 J-10 07/23/2017 99


East Beach - E
IDDate Found# Eggs1st Emergence# to Water# HatchedSurvival %
2017 E-1 06/05/2017 45 08/18/2017 16 16 35.56%
2017 E-2 06/08/2017 161 08/10/2017 96 102 59.63%
2017 E-3 06/30/2017 100 08/26/2017 96 96 96.00%
2017 E-4 07/03/2017 131 08/24/2017 112 112 85.50%
2017 E-5 07/03/2017 111 08/26/2017 8 8 7.21%
2017 E-6 07/05/2017 118 08/28/2017 106 106 89.83%
2017 E-7 07/19/2017 113 09/12/2017 1 1 0.88%
2017 E-8 07/24/2017


Fort Morgan - A
IDDate Found# Eggs1st Emergence# to Water# HatchedSurvival %
2017 A-1 05/23/2017 148 07/26/2017 133 132 89.86%
2017 A-2 05/23/2017 100 07/30/2017 74 74 74.00%
2017 A-3 05/23/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-4 05/24/2017 127 08/06/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-5 05/25/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-6 05/26/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-7 05/26/2017 122 08/02/2017 11 11 9.02%
2017 A-8 06/04/2017 114 08/17/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-9 06/04/2017 105 07/28/2017 96 96 91.43%
2017 A-10 06/04/2017 105 08/17/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-11 06/05/2017 111 08/02/2017 104 104 93.69%
2017 A-12 06/05/2017 34 08/14/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-13 06/07/2017 72 08/06/2017 4 10 5.56%
2017 A-14 06/07/2017 98 08/08/2017 90 90 91.84%
2017 A-15 06/07/2017 142 08/10/2017 121 122 85.21%
2017 A-16 06/08/2017 121 08/08/2017 110 110 90.91%
2017 A-17 06/09/2017 87 08/22/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-18 06/11/2017 0 0
2017 A-19 06/11/2017
2017 A-20 06/14/2017 98 08/16/2017 12 11 12.24%
2017 A-21 06/15/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-22 06/16/2017 126 08/13/2017 106 107 84.13%
2017 A-23 06/16/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-24 06/16/2017 97 08/10/2017 92 92 94.85%
2017 A-25 06/17/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-26 06/18/2017 70 08/31/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-27 06/23/2017 106 08/17/2017 102 105 96.23%
2017 A-28 06/23/2017 95 08/15/2017 90 91 94.74%
2017 A-29 06/23/2017 99 08/16/2017 75 75 75.76%
2017 A-30 06/23/2017 113 08/14/2017 80 97 70.80%
2017 A-31 06/24/2017 129 08/16/2017 127 127 98.45%
2017 A-32 06/25/2017 145 08/14/2017 131 129 90.34%
2017 A-33 06/26/2017 80 08/23/2017 69 69 86.25%
2017 A-34 06/29/2017 107 08/18/2017 91 91 85.05%
2017 A-35 06/29/2017 86 08/22/2017 81 81 94.19%
2017 A-36 06/30/2017 85 08/22/2017 81 81 95.29%
2017 A-37 06/29/2017 141 08/22/2017 131 132 92.91%
2017 A-38 07/01/2017 91 08/23/2017 86 86 94.51%
2017 A-39 07/01/2017 108 08/21/2017 105 105 97.22%
2017 A-40 07/03/2017 120 08/25/2017 103 103 85.83%
2017 A-41 07/03/2017 104 08/25/2017 90 90 86.54%
2017 A-42 07/03/2017 85 08/31/2017 82 82 96.47%
2017 A-43 07/03/2017 88 08/26/2017 80 75 90.91%
2017 A-44 07/05/2017 94 08/29/2017 67 68 71.28%
2017 A-45 07/05/2017 101 08/21/2017 95 95 94.06%
2017 A-46 07/06/2017 95 08/26/2017 92 93 96.83%
2017 A-47 07/08/2017 122 08/30/2017 91 116 74.59%
2017 A-48 07/08/2017 116 09/04/2017 114 114 98.28%
2017 A-49 07/08/2017 92 09/04/2017 64 64 69.57%
2017 A-50 07/08/2017 119 09/03/2017 115 115 96.64%
2017 A-51 07/11/2017 95 09/03/2017 92 92 96.84%
2017 A-52 07/12/2017 116 09/01/2017 113 113 97.41%
2017 A-53 07/11/2017 125 09/03/2017 113 113 90.40%
2017 A-54 07/13/2017 95 09/04/2017 93 93 97.89%
2017 A-55 07/13/2017 83 09/09/2017 35 35 42.17%
2017 A-56 07/13/2017 124 09/05/2017 120 120 96.77%
2017 A-57 07/14/2017 86 09/05/2017 85 85 98.84%
2017 A-58 07/15/2017 95 09/09/2017 58 57 61.05%
2017 A-59 07/15/2017 124 09/07/2017 16 16 12.90%
2017 A-60 07/16/2017 81 09/14/2017 79 79 97.53%
2017 A-61 07/18/2017 95 09/23/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-62 07/18/2017 97 09/18/2017 23 29 23.71%
2017 A-63 07/18/2017 81 0.00%
2017 A-64 07/19/2017 111 09/08/2017 94 94 84.68%
2017 A-65 07/19/2017 80 10/01/2017 0.00%
2017 A-66 07/20/2017 0.00%
2017 A-67 07/24/2017 99 09/19/2017 98 98 98.99%
2017 A-68 07/25/2017
2017 A-69 07/26/2017 75 09/21/2017 73 73 97.33%
2017 A-70 07/26/2017 76 10/05/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 A-71 07/27/2017 124 09/19/2017 116 115 93.55%
2017 A-72 07/28/2017 136 09/23/2017 106 108 77.94%
2017 A-73 07/19/2017 59 0.00%
2017 A-74 05/23/2017 104 07/27/2017 100 104 96.15%
2017 A-75 07/29/2017 86 09/28/2017 80 80 93.02%
2017 A-76 07/30/2017 104 0.00%
2017 A-77 08/01/2017 84 10/03/2017 0 42 0.00%
2017 A-78 08/03/2017 126 10/04/2017 109 110 87.30%
2017 A-79 08/05/2017 87 10/02/2017 86 86 98.85%
2017 A-80 08/07/2017 95 10/02/2017 88 89 92.63%
2017 A-81 08/09/2017 0.00%
2017 A-82 06/29/2017 26 08/23/2017 26 26 100.00%
2017 A-83 06/24/2017 95 08/21/2017 15 15 15.79%
2017 A-84 07/09/2017 65 09/02/2017 64 64 98.46%


Gulf State Park - G
IDDate Found# Eggs1st Emergence# to Water# HatchedSurvival %
2017 G-1 06/15/2017 134 0 0 0.00%
2017 G-2 06/16/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 G-3 06/30/2017 88 08/25/2017 80 81 90.91%
2017 G-4 07/02/2017 107 08/28/2017 103 103 96.26%
2017 G-5 07/15/2017 156 09/07/2017 146 147 93.59%
2017 G-6 07/30/2017 104 10/01/2017 99 99 95.19%


Laguna Key - B
IDDate Found# Eggs1st Emergence# to Water# HatchedSurvival %
2017 B-1 05/18/2017 99 07/21/2017 93 99 93.90%
2017 B-2 05/24/2017 120 07/29/2017 28 27 23.33%
2017 B-3 05/24/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 B-4 06/05/2017 144 0 0 0.00%
2017 B-5 06/10/2017 113 08/10/2017 35 35 30.97%
2017 B-6 06/10/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 B-7 06/11/2017 133 08/13/2017 101 102 75.94%
2017 B-8 06/12/2017 72 08/08/2017 22 22 30.56%
2017 B-9 06/14/2017 102 08/14/2017 64 67 62.75%
2017 B-10 06/15/2017 139 08/13/2017 10 17 7.19%
2017 B-11 06/19/2017 111 09/01/2017 0 0 0.00%
2017 B-12 06/19/2017 92 08/17/2017 1 1 1.09%
2017 B-13 06/22/2017 90 08/17/2017 86 86 95.56%
2017 B-14 06/24/2017 137 08/15/2017 131 133 95.62%
2017 B-15 06/26/2017 111 08/17/2017 102 102 91.89%
2017 B-16 06/30/2017 152 08/25/2017 146 146 96.05%
2017 B-17 07/06/2017 90 08/29/2017 86 87 95.56%
2017 B-18 07/06/2017 124 08/31/2017 114 115 91.94%
2017 B-19 07/07/2017 122 08/29/2017 118 118 96.72%
2017 B-20 07/07/2017 97 08/29/2017 88 88 90.72%
2017 B-21 07/14/2017 132 09/05/2017 124 125 93.94%
2017 B-22 07/14/2017 82 09/09/2017 52 52 63.41%
2017 B-23 07/14/2017 155 09/05/2017 143 148 92.26%
2017 B-24 07/14/2017 114 09/09/2017 108 108 94.74%
2017 B-25 07/14/2017 87 09/07/2017 79 80 90.80%
2017 B-26 07/18/2017 90 09/14/2017 87 87 96.67%
2017 B-27 07/24/2017 100 09/20/2017 93 94 93.00%
2017 B-28 07/26/2017 127 09/22/2017 122 122 96.06%
2017 B-29 08/02/2017 95 09/30/2017 78 78 82.11%
2017 B-30 08/04/2017 102 09/29/2017 95 95 93.14%
2017 B-31 08/05/2017 74 09/27/2017 67 69 90.54%
2017 B-32 08/16/2017 126 10/17/2017 5 5 3.97%
2017 B-33 08/20/2017 140 08/20/2017 23 23 16.43%


Orange Beach - H
IDDate Found# Eggs1st Emergence# to Water# HatchedSurvival %
2017 H-1 05/31/2017 92 08/09/2017 30 30 32.61%
2017 H-2 06/06/2017 121 08/10/2017 64 64 52.89%
2017 H-3 06/10/2017 124 08/21/2017 2 2 1.61%
2017 H-4 06/11/2017 108 08/18/2017 41 41 37.96%
2017 H-5 06/18/2017 134 08/17/2017 127 127 94.78%
2017 H-6 07/19/2017 108 09/16/2017 91 91 84.26%
2017 H-7 07/19/2017 74 09/19/2017 68 68 91.89%
2017 H-8 07/27/2017 99 09/29/2017 95 95 95.96%
2017 H-9 08/09/2017 142 10/06/2017 105 105 73.94%
2017 H-10 08/16/2017 111 10/16/2017 105 105 94.59%


West Beach II - C
IDDate Found# Eggs1st Emergence# to Water# HatchedSurvival %
2017 C-1 06/18/2017 137
2017 C-2 07/03/2017
2017 C-3 07/07/2017 148
2017 C-4 07/12/2017
2017 C-5 07/13/2017 132
2017 C-6 07/14/2017
2017 C-7 07/21/2017 123
2017 C-8 08/05/2017
2017 C-9 08/10/2017 77
2017 C-10 06/15/2017 10 08/18/2017 10 10 9.09%
2017 C-11 06/15/2017 96 08/20/2017 93 96 96.88%