Sea Turtles Found Nesting In Greater Numbers

JUNO BEACH, Fla. — This year’s Florida-wide nesting numbers continue to improve for leatherbacks and green sea turtles and have stabilized for loggerheads.

“The numbers can be attributed at least in part to major conservation efforts over the past few decades,” said Blair Witherington, a Florida Wildlife Commission research institute scientist.

Nesting counts for the

10 miles of beaches patrolled by the Loggerhead Marinelife Center showed an increase in leatherback nesting, from

190 last year to 278 this year. The nesting season ended

on Oct. 1.

Loggerhead nests dropped slightly from 8,194 last year

to 7,674 this year. Green turtle nests dropped from 1,924 last year to 1,904 this year. About 2,300 sea turtle nests were washed away by Hurricane Irene.

“Green and leatherback nesting continues to grow in northern Palm Beach County. While they are still rarer than loggerheads, increasing numbers are a positive sign,” biologist Kelly Martin said.

Statewide counts since 1989 are done annually by wildlife officials at 33 locations along the 800 miles of coastline at selected beaches along both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida.

The counts are made in summer when female sea turtles crawl ashore to bury their eggs in the sand, said Carli Segelson, wildlife commission spokeswoman. Both leatherback and green turtles are federally classified as in danger of extinction. There were 601 leatherback nests, which was just shy of the record set in 2009. The nesting count for greens was 10,701, which set a record, according to commission figures.

“It’s important that people keep obeying turtle nesting regulations and obey laws that prohibit going near sea turtle nests,” Segelson said.

Statewide nesting numbers for loggerheads in the past decade had been steadily declining, but the last few years have stabilized. The statewide count was 59,918 nests in 1998. This year’s count was 41,939.

Loggerheads are classified as federally threatened, which means they are not as close to extinction as greens and leatherbacks.

“Loggerheads are having a tougher time coping with the environmental challenges,” Witherington said.


~ by narhvalur on October 15, 2011.

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