It’s that wonderful time of year again on the East Coast: sea turtle hatching season! Turtle nests—from green sea turtles to loggerheads, Kemp’s ridleys, and even more species—are starting to hatch from Virginia to the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re a sea turtle lover and haven’t made it to the beach to catch a nest hatch, don’t worry—the Florida Keys Turtle Cam has got you covered.
Last week, the Turtle Cam caught the entire experience of a loggerhead sea turtle nest hatch in the Florida Keys on camera—from the time the first few hatchlings poked their heads out of the sand to the time the entire clutch feverishly crawled to the ocean. Dim moonlight guided more than 100 3-inch-long baby loggerheads to the ocean during this nest boil, according to Local 10.
Sea turtle nests normally hatch from 50 to 60 days after the nest was laid, depending on temperature and weather patterns during their incubation. When turtle nests hatch, the entire clutch—usually consisting of about 120 baby turtles—scurry to the ocean at once. A recent study found that sea turtles make noises within their nest to communicate and coordinate the hatching process.
This high-definition camera uses infrared lighting so that it doesn’t interfere with the moon’s natural glow—the light that sea turtle hatchlings depend on to guide them to the sea. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provided the camera as part of ongoing efforts to raise public awareness about the need to protect sea turtles in Florida.
Check out the time-lapse video below to see these turtles start their journey: