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Friends of Cayo Costa offer Adopt-a-Nest program

May 8, 2019
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

One of Southwest Florida's natural wonders is the summer nesting of sea turtles from May 1 through October at Cayo Costa State Park. The Friends of Cayo Costa and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are working to protect these endangered turtles.

Every night, on the 8 miles of beaches of Cayo Costa, Florida sea turtles make their way from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico onto the sandy beaches in their ancient ritual of digging holes in which to lay their eggs. Once the female lays her eggs, she heads back into the Gulf.

Female sea turtles will lay eggs up to eight times during the season, with each nest containing over 100 eggs. The FDEP monitors turtle nesting in Florida.

Article Photos

A green sea turtle on a Southwest Florida beach.


"The two most common turtles on Cayo Costa are the loggerheads, which can average 200 250 pounds, and then the green sea turtles," FDEP Park Services Specialist Mary Mazyck said.

Once the nesting season starts, park rangers and volunteers on "turtle patrol" walk the beach looking for turtle tracks.

"You can actually tell what type of turtle it is by the tracks," Mazyck said. "Then we locate the nests, identify each nest by species, mark and number them with their GPS coordinates. We may also place protective screens around the nests after the eggs are laid to discourage predators."

There are usually more than 300 nests on the Gulf side of Cayo Costa island. According to the FDEP website, "human impact has taken its toll on these gentle sea giants to the point that turtles are struggling to survive."

"Friends of Cayo Costa is working with FDEP to protect these endangered turtles and has developed an 'Adopt a Nest' program," Elaine McLaughlin, chair of the Friends of Cayo Costa State Park Committee said. "With a $25 donation you can adopt one or more of Cayo Costa's turtle nests."

When an individual adopts a nest, their name will be listed as a donor/sponsor, and they will be notified via email of the date upon which the turtle eggs were laid, as well as the GPS coordinates of their "adopted" nest. They will then receive a follow-up email notifying when the "adopted" nest has hatched.

Adopting a nest is easy. Visit the Friends of Cayo Costa website at: and complete the online form.

The FoCC also needs volunteers. If you have an interest in learning more about what FoCC does or volunteering on its committee, please fill out the "Volunteer" form and they will be in touch with you soon. Visit:



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