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2005 Merritt Island NWR Sea Turtle Nesting Season
© Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
12/11/05

This is the 2005 summary of the sea turtle nesting data for the beaches found within the security areas of KSC. The refuge staff monitors sea turtle nesting in this area, approximately six miles of beach. Mike Simmons is the refuge bio-tech that wrote this report and sent these images (below).

2005 Nesting Count
Loggerhead
695
Green
183
Leatherback
3

The 2005 sea turtle nesting season was improved from 2004. The number of nests and false crawls of the 3 main species of sea turtles, Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas, and Dermochelys coriacea, were up from the 2004 season. This was especially encouraging since the trend has been decreasing the last few years. Overall, in 2005, there were a total of 881 nests found. The actual number of the nests is higher due to parts or the entire beach being closed periodically due to NASA's hazardous operations and launches. Of the 881 nests found there were 695 Loggerhead nests, 183 Green nests, and 3 Leatherback nests. Overall there were 1068 false crawls: 809 Loggerhead, 258 Green, and 1 Leatherback. Of the 881 total nests found only 54 nests were depredated for a rate of 6.129%.

Loggerhead (Caretta caretta):

As stated above there were 695 Loggerhead nests found this year as well as 809 false crawls. Our marking scheme for Loggerhead nests this year was to mark every 10th nest. There were 70 Loggerhead nests marked this year. Of the 70 marked nests, only 51 survived the storms this year. 19 nests were lost due to named storms, Ophelia and Wilma. Of the 70 marked nests 3 nests were depredated by raccoon while 5 nests were depredated by ghost crab. The depredation rate for marked Loggerhead nests was 11.428%. Out of the 695 Loggerhead nests only 47 nests were depredated: 24 by raccoon, 9 by ghost crab, 5 by bobcat, and 9 by unknown. The depredation rate overall for Loggerhead nests was 6.763%. Marked Loggerhead nests had a much higher depredation rate compared to unmarked Loggerhead nests.

Green (Chelonia mydas):

As stated above there were 183 Green nests and 258 Green false crawls found this year. Our marking scheme for Green nests started out at marking every Green. Once we found the nesting activity to be so high we adjusted the marking scheme to every other nest. There were 84 Green nests marked this year. Of the 84 marked nests, only 53 survived this year's storms. 31 nests were lost due to named storms, Ophelia and Wilma. Of the 84 marked nests 3 nests were depredated by ghost crab and 1 nest was depredated by a wireworm (Click Beetle larvae). The depredation rate for marked Green nests was 4.762% while the depredation rate for all green nests was again lower at only 3.825%. There were only 7 Green nests depredated overall out of the 183 total Green nests.

Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea):

As stated above there were 3 Leatherback nests found and 1 false crawl. We marked every Leatherback nests we found do to the extremely low numbers of Leatherback sea turtles remaining. Not one of the Leatherback nests was depredated or lost because of storms.

Our Merritt Island NWR home page.

GhostCrab Green Sea Turtle Hatchling GreenNest GreenSeaTurtleFalseCrawl
Ghost Crab Green Sea Turtle Hatchling Green Nest Green Sea Turtle False Crawl
GreenSeaTurtleNest70#10005 GreenWithLeatherback#10006 Left-HatchedEgg-Righ#10007 LoggerheadSeaTurtleF#10008
Green Sea Turtle Nest #70 - Emergence Green With Leatherback Hatchlings Left-Hatched Egg - Right-Ghost Crab Depradation Loggerhead Sea Turtle False Crawl