Biologist Beach Walks at Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Summer is the prime time for sea turtle nesting and hatching, and those living in South Florida are lucky enough to be able to witness the action in their own backyards. This year, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center is offering a special program designed for guests to learn about this process and offer them a chance to witness a live nest excavation. These Biologist Beach Walks will be available to the public starting on August 3, and will continue to run on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays throughout September.

“This is the inaugural year we’re holding these walks,” explained Hannah Deadman, Public Relations and Communications Coordinator at the center. “Our research team conducts surveys every morning during nesting season to monitor the success of our local sea turtle population, and we wanted to highlight their efforts.”

During nesting season, the center’s research team conduct surveys every morning.

Walks begin at 7 a.m., and each morning a staff member will lead guests down onto Juno or Tequesta beaches to discuss the nesting and hatching processes of South Florida’s local sea turtles. Guests may also have the chance to witness a nest excavation, observe hatchlings in their natural environment, and create their own data sheets to take home.

For those unfamiliar with nest excavations, sea turtles hatch about two months after the mother has laid the nest on the beach, and are forced to dig their way out of the sand to the surface. Since all sea turtle species are listed as either threatened or endangered, biologists try to help the populations by carefully digging up nests that have been hatched in order to give the potentially-stranded hatchlings a better chance of making it to the ocean, gathering data and documenting their findings along the way.

“One of our staff members will go in 72 hours after a nest we’ve been monitoring has hatched, and he or she will pull out the contents of the nest and count the number of eggs that have hatched, the ones that haven’t, and any live hatchlings,” said Deadman. “All of this data contributes to our long-term success.”

Although there is no guarantee that a nest will be available for excavation or that guests will be able to see hatchlings on their walk, each walk has the same chances. There are no refunds if a nest is not excavated or hatchlings not seen.

“While we can’t guarantee that guests will see a nest excavation or live turtles since we can’t know for sure what the sea turtles are doing, we have a high density of nests that we’re monitoring – well into the thousands – so the probability is very high,” said Deadman.

Sea turtle hatchlings making their way to their ocean home.

The Biologist Beach Walk program costs $12 per person and $10 for LMC members. Walk-ins are a flat rate of $15, and a spot is not guaranteed. Each session can accommodate up to 15 people, and dates fill up quickly. All guests, including children, are required to pre-register online to reserve their spot. Children must be at least eight years old to attend the program, and all participants must be able to walk up to half a mile in soft sand.

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