Volusia County, FL – Volusia County saw a record year for sea turtle nests this year despite Hurricane Matthew.
Between May and October 676 sea turtle nests were counted, each of which contains around 100 eggs. This marked the 2nd highest nesting year on record for loggerheads, which is the most common sea turtle species found in FL. Volunteers and staff counted 667 loggerhead nests in 2016. 2012 saw 885 loggerhead nests.
Sea turtle expert Jennifer Winters said Volusia County also saw 4 green sea turtle nests, 4 leatherback nests, and 1 rare Kemp’s Ridley nest. “We were excited to see so many turtles using our beaches this summer,” said Winters. “While our season officially ended October 31st, Hurricane Matthew abruptly brought the season to an end October 7th when the high surf from the storm washed away the remaining 13 nests we had on the beach.”
Volusia County also saw over 1,200 washbacks, a record number. Washbacks are baby sea turtles that hatched on the beaches and made their way offshore but were forced back to land by rough surf from storms.
Many people may not realize that sea turtles are a keystone species – meaning they play a vital role in their ecosystem. For example, green sea turtles graze on sea grass. Grazed sea grass beds are more productive which makes for a better nursery for fish and other species that humans and marine predators depend on.
To learn about Volusia County’s sea turtle program call 386-238-4668 or go to VolusiaSeaTurtles.org.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2016.