Historic Markers Across Florida

Sea Turtles on Sanibel

Marker ID:  
Location: Sanibel Lighthouse Beach Park, 110/153 Perwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL
County: Lee
Coordinates: N 26° 27.161    W 082° 0.878
  26.45268333    -82.01463333
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMV4KQ


Sea Turtles on Sanibel

Sea turtles have been swimming the Earth's oceans for more than 100 million years. They are air-breathing reptiles adapted to life at sea. They vary in size from the small Kemp's Ridley turtle that weights 100 pounds to the enormous leatherback turtle that can weight up to 2,000 pounds. Sanibel's beaches provide nesting ground for primarily loggerhead and green turtles.

SCCF Sea Turtle Monitoring
The early years of Sanibel's turtle research Pictured-Charles LeBuff Havefield, Jim Anholt
Loggerhead turtle hatchling
SCCF's turtle jeep
Marked loggerhead turtle nests

One of the first and longest running sea turtle research and monitoring programs was started by Charles LeBuff here at the lighthouse in 1959. Today, over 100 SCCF volunteers monitor the beach daily from May to October. They look for the distinctive tracks left by female sea turtles coming ashore. Nests are marked for protection and monitoring. Three days after a nest hatches it is dug to inventory the nest.

Sea Turtle Facts

• All sea turtle species are protected by the U. S. Endangered Species Act.

• Four of the seven sea turtles species have nested on Sanibel.

• Sea turtles spend their whole lives in the ocean, except when females come ashore to nest.

• Hatchlings emerge at night with the instinct to go to the brightest horizon.
On natural beaches this is the water.

• Sanibel has between 125 and 350 nests every year.

Human Threats to Sea Turtles
• Pollution
• Marine Debris
• Beachfront Lighting
• Destruction of Nesting Habitat
• Commercial Fisheries
• Sport Fisheries

Beachfront lights and skyglow disorient
Contents of one sea turtle's intestines
Dead Sea turtle found entangled in fishing gear
Beachfront development contributes to destruction of habitat

Ways to Help
• Pick up garbage on the beach, especially plastics
• Shield or turn off lights near the beach
• Avoid using a flashlight at night on the beach
• Close curtain and blinds on windows facing the beach
• Dispose of fishing hooks and line properly

Photographs of this marker can be found on HMDB.org