Sea Turtles at Cayo Costa

An underwater view of a sea turtle underwater.

Cayo Costa State Park is a unique, undeveloped barrier Island that separates Pine Island and Cape Coral from the Gulf of Mexico. Barrier Islands are very dynamic and play an important role in protecting mainland coastlines during storms.

With over eight miles of natural beaches, Cayo Costa’s pristine waters offer abundant wildlife viewing possibilities. Manatees, dolphin and migrating shorebirds are abundant in the surrounding waters, but the most astounding natural wonder is the endangered sea turtles. From May to October, Cayo Costa becomes a sea turtle nesting ground. Female sea turtles will lay eggs up to eight times during the season, with each nest containing over 100 eggs. Of that number only about 80% will hatch and about half of that will survive. There are a variety of risks for the hatchlings as soon as they leave the nest – from natural predators to encountering hazards created by humans.

The low-survival rates of the sea turtle are part of the reason that conservationists work so hard to ensure that the nests are protected. If you walk along the gulf shore of Cayo Costa, you may encounter many marked sea turtle nests. In addition to being marked, the nests are also numbered and their location recorded for tracking and research purposes. Until the eggs hatch, the nests are monitored closely as park staff and volunteers work diligently to protect the nests. Cayo Costa averages over 300 sea turtle nests each year and thanks to the ongoing conservation efforts, the sea turtle population has slowly begun to increase.