Loggerhead Marinelife Center research biologists document record-breaking sea turtle nesting season

Sometimes, it is easy being green. Since this May, research biologists from the Research Laboratory at Loggerhead Marinelife Center have documented 6,039 green sea turtle nests along the 9.5-mile stretch of beach they monitor, beating the all-time green nesting record set in 2015. The record also beat Florida’s entire green sea turtle nest count last year at 5,393 nests.

Additionally, LMC’s research biologists have documented a total of 17,086 leatherback, loggerhead and green sea turtle nests, breaking the overall record along the 9.5-mile stretch that the LMC team monitors. That’s more nests in one season than some researchers will find in over 10 years.

Still, comparing numbers year over year is difficult, especially since green sea turtles nest in alternate high to low years. Sea turtles are also long-lived animals, so LMC’s research biologists cannot be sure why exactly the numbers change. This is one of the reasons long-term monitoring is essential in sea turtle research.

“Scientists can’t know what is happening with populations unless we know numbers, which means we have to document nests and crawls,” said Sarah Hirsch, LMC’s data manager. “However, it’s not just about counting. We have to analyze those numbers to find trends, including beach ecological health and sea turtle hatching success. We also collect data for ongoing collaborative research projects. It’s encouraging to see nest numbers steadily increase – definitely an affirmation of our efforts to learn more about and protect sea turtles.”

Sea turtle nesting season ends in Palm Beach County on Oct. 31. Guests can learn about the Center’s research work through Biologist Beach Walks and Hatchling Release programs being offered this August.

For more information about LMC’s research efforts, visit marinelife.org/research.