Slow and steady wins the race – at least, that’s how it’s been for loggerhead sea turtles in northern Palm Beach County. Since mid-April this year, LMC biologists have documented 11,710 nests along the 9.5-mile stretch of beach that LMC monitors – setting an all-time record-breaking year for nesting loggerhead sea turtles since the last record-breaking year in 2012.
The record number comes after almost a decade’s worth of gradual increase in loggerhead nests. Starting in the early 2000’s, LMC researchers documented a decline in loggerhead nests, and in 2007, they documented the lowest loggerhead nest count ever at only 4,492 nests. Fortunately, loggerhead nest numbers have increased overall every year since then.
So why 2016? The simple answer is, it’s hard to say. Because loggerheads are such a long-lived species, LMC biologists cannot be sure why exactly the numbers change. This is one of the reasons long-term monitoring is essential to further sea turtle research.
“In part, this recent increase may be linked to the Endangered Species Act as well as to local and international conservation efforts over the last 30 years,” said Dr. Charles Manire, LMC’s director of research and rehabilitation.
So for now, LMC biologists celebrate as they continue to work hard through nesting season, which runs until Oct. 31 in South Florida. Guests can observe LMC’s research department in action through August and September with LMC’s new public program, Biologist Beach Walks, or the Hatchling Release program.