Volusia County, FL – According to Volusia County, there has been a record number of sea turtle nests on the beaches this year.
Sea turtle nesting season begins in May and ends in October. Typically, each female lays 100 eggs per nest, and they will lay several nests. The species a nest belongs to can be identified based on the tracks left behind from the mother crawling ashore.
“We were excited to see so many turtles using our beaches again this summer,” said Habitat Conservation Plan program manager for Volusia County, Jennifer Winters. “While our season officially ended Oct. 31, we still have some turtle nest activity, thanks in part to Hurricane Irma.”
720 sea turtle nests were recorded this nesting season, the 2nd highest number on record in the County. Out of those nests, 634 belong to loggerhead turtles, 82 belong to green sea turtles, and 4 belong to Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. The largest number of loggerhead sea turtle nests recorded on Volusia County beaches was 885 in 2017.
The number of green sea turtle nests set a new record this year, beating out the 2007 and 2013 record of 55. The presence of 4 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nest is extremely rare for the county as it surpasses the record of 2 set in 1996 and repeated in 2014.
“We were well into our hatching season with hundreds of nests still marked in the sand when Hurricane Irma impacted us,” said Winters. “We lost approximately 200 nests completely because of erosion or tidal inundation, meaning the eggs were either washed away or drowned by water saturating the sand. Fortunately, after the storm, we were able to re-establish about 50 nests, and we even had some new nests laid.”
Since there are still 9 active nests left on the beach in Volusia, it is estimated that 39,000 eggs hatched this season. Over 1,000 baby sea turtles were rescued by beachgoers and Volusia County Beach Safety after Hurricane Irma uncovered several nests.
800 baby sea turtles were washed back with seaweed beds brought to shore due to the large surf created by Irma. Every year, volunteers are trained to collect washback sea turtles for the Washback Watcher program. These volunteers are authorized to take washback sea turtles to the Marine Science Center.
Thanks to a grant from Sea Turtle Grants Program, the Volusia County Environmental Management Division was able to design and purchase a sea turtle character costume named Cara Caretta (CC). CC is named after Caretta caretta or the scientific name for loggerhead sea turtles. The goal is to educate beachside hotels and businesses on the environment, wildlife, and practices so that they can pass it onto their patrons.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2017.