Navy monitoring 10 sea turtle nests on Mayport beach

NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. – Sea turtle nesting is in full swing on Naval Station Mayport’s beachfront.

Base officials said they scour the sandy shores every morning looking for nests.

The base has approximately one mile of beachfront and within that one mile, there are currently 10 sea turtle nests.

“We usually average 10 a year, so we are doing really well for this year," said Heather Hahn, natural resources manager for Naval Station Mayport. "Right now we are getting loggerheads nesting. Last year was a phenomenal year, and I don’t think we will do as good as last year, but we are still doing better than in years past.”

Each nest is protected and partitioned off with netting.

“When the turtle comes up, she comes up really late at night, she digs a hole, she deposits her eggs, she will cover it back up and she does this thing called camouflaging where she will throw sand all over the place to try and make it harder for predators to find her eggs,” Hahn said.

Then the turtle is out of there.

“She does not return. The nest usually incubates for about a month, and then the hatchlings come up out of the nest and head to the ocean all by themselves," Hahn said. "About one in 1,000 make it to adulthood, which is why it’s so important to give them the best chance we can possibly give them. Every activity we do is under a permit. We have to be authorized through FWC to do anything with a nest, and if you don’t have that permit, any interaction with sea turtles is illegal. They are protected under the Endangered Species Act; every sea turtle is threatened or endangered.”

People who violate the act are subject to steep fines.

Hahn said nesting season runs from May to August. Hatchlings can be seen through October.

Officials on base said they are not seeing many false crawls, which is where a turtle will come onto the beach to nest; but for whatever reason turns around.

Last week we reported Jacksonville Beach is seeing an increase of false crawls.

To report an unmarked nest, contact your local municipality or FWC.

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