A stunning green sea turtle laid her eggs yesterday morning, on our local beaches, after Hurricane Dorian had moved away from our coast. After completing our nesting survey yesterday, our research team reported that despite Hurricane Dorian, our Center has recorded a successful sea turtle nesting season on our 9.5-mile stretch of beach.
While the wind and wave action from Hurricane Dorian eroded our local beaches leaving sea turtle nests and eggs exposed, sea turtles are still nesting on our local beaches, such as this green sea turtle. As many of our community members know, it’s difficult to see exposed sea turtle eggs on the beach, however, it’s important to note that some of the fragmented shells are from nests that had already hatched out prior to the storm’s arrival. Despite Hurricane Dorian’s impacts, this nesting season (2019) is considered as one of the most productive nesting seasons documented to-date.
Although Hurricane Dorian’s proximity to our coast did have an effect on sea turtle nests, no storm season is a complete loss for sea turtles (which our data supports). Yesterday, our research team spent their day calculating Hurricane Dorian’s impact on sea turtle nests located on our 9.5-mile stretch of beach and have estimated that the storm affected approximately 18% (3,793) of total nests (20,951) on our beach to-date.
For comparison, the final nest count recorded on our beach in 2018 was 11,951. Even with the nests lost due to Hurricane Dorian, our research team predicts to document 17,000+ successful nests on our beach for the 2019 season. Sea turtle nesting season concludes on October 31st and sea turtles will continue to lay nest on the Center’s local beaches contributing to even more nesting success for 2019 making this nesting season one of the most productive sea turtle nesting seasons on record.
In the next few weeks, beachgoers may continue to see exposed eggs and nests and disoriented hatchlings (we’ve received 130 since the storm). We advise beachgoers to leave exposed eggs and nests untouched and bring disoriented hatchlings to our 24-hour, hatchling rescue cooler located at the entrance of our center. We ask you to please transport hatchlings, a threatened/endangered species, with extreme care in a bucket with damp sand and no water to prevent accidental drowning. If you discover a sick, injured or stranded sea turtle, please call FWC (*FWC) or our Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline (561-603-0211).