Gopher Tortoises At Florida-Georgia Border

A study of gopher tortoises, a threatened species, has been underway for four years on Cumberland Island, Georgia (see video below). Just across the Cumberland Sound, here on Amelia Island, gopher tortoises live and breed in coastal dunes and Florida’s upland habitat.

Around the dunes at the seashore, it’s easy to spot their burrows as one crosses wooden beach walkovers. Herbivores (they eat plants), their amazing burrows can provide shelter to hundreds of different species (but not all at the same time).

Gopher Tortoise, Amelia Island Beach Dunes. Photo AmeliaIslandLiving.com
Gopher Tortoise At Burrow Opening, Amelia Island

Hatchlings Emerge August To November

In late summer to fall, one might see tortoise hatchlings. Female gopher tortoises “typically lay one clutch of 5-9 ping pong ball-sized eggs per year. Eggs are deposited between May and July.  Egg incubation lasts 80 to 110 days, and hatchlings typically emerge from their nests between August and November,”  according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Gopher Tortoise Habitat Amelia Island American Beach
Gopher Tortoise Habitat, Amelia Island’s Dunes (American Beach)

Gopher Tortoise Study

The research study on Cumberland Island is being conducted by Dr. John Enz, professor of Biology and Marine Science at Jacksonville University. Take a look at an interesting video below, produced by the university, to learn more about gopher tortoises. Also see why prescribed burns benefit this species and pine habitat here around the coast in America’s southeast.

Watch Cumberland Island Video

Human development of the coast has diminished the natural habitat of these creatures and created obstacles to survival with the large numbers of people per square mile both visiting and living in coastal areas.

Florida State Laws

In an effort to help protect the species, Florida has state laws in place restricting what property owners can do with gopher tortoises on their land/lot. Gopher tortoises are protected by Chapter 68A – 27.003, of Florida Administrative Code. If gopher tortoises are on a Florida property, a “relocation permit [is required] before disturbing the burrows. A disturbance includes any type of work within 25 feet of a gopher tortoise burrow,” according to the FWCC.

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This “Editor’s Pick” video is one of a curated collection shared by Amelia Island Living. Selected are videos offering educational and/or entertainment value with interesting visual content and information.