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Green Sea Turtle Nests Break Records On Treasure Coast (And Across Florida)

Green sea turtles on the Treasure Coast had a record-breaking nesting season this year. 

Jensen Beach-based Ecological Associates recorded 2,225 green sea turtles nests across three areas in Martin and St. Lucie counties in 2015.

The organization—which surveys sea turtle nests and protects nests during coastal construction projects—monitors nests at the Hobe Sound Natural Wildlife Refuge, St. Lucie Inlet State Park and the southern half of Hutchinson Island. Nesting season runs from March through October.

This year, 1,372 green sea turtle nests were recorded in Hobe Sound National Wildlife refuge. The previous record was 1,307 in 2013. 

St. Lucie Inet State Park saw 375 nests, compared to its previous high of 198 in 2013, while Hutchinson Island South saw 478, up from its 290 record set in 2010. 

The Treasure Coast wasn't the only area to report great numbers this year. Green sea turtles also set a statewide record across Florida with 27,975 nests across 26 beaches studied, TCPalm reported.

According to Erik Martin, scientific director for Ecological Associates, green turtle nesting has been increasing exponentially in state for the last 20 years.

“This is undoubtedly due to conservation efforts that began in the 1970s, especially protections provided by the Endangered Species Act,” he said. 

Green turtles take 25 to 35 years to mature and reach nesting age, according to Martin, so it's possible that the results of those efforts are appearing now.

In fact, nest numbers in 2015 were relatively high for all sea turtle species, according to Martin, who has been studying sea turtle activity in the area for nearly 40 years. The loss of nests to predators or waves was about average.

Martin explained, however, that it's most important to keep track of the number of hatchlings produced. During years with extreme weather conditions—very hot, very wet, or very dry—the average number of hatchlings that emerge from their nests tends to be lower than usual.

Ecological Associates has not completed its analysis of this figure for 2015, since nests are still hatching, but Martin said dry weather conditions early in the season may have played a role in the final count.

“The first part of the nesting season was relatively hot and dry, so there may have been some impact related to those conditions," he said.

(Image via Wikimedia/Brocken Inaglory)


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