TALLAHASSEE, Fla - The Florida sea turtle nesting season has come to an end, and there is good news for two of Florida’s federally endangered sea turtle species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners documented a record high annual nest count for green turtles in Florida. Leatherback turtles also had a high number of nests, with the count falling just shy of the previous high mark in 2009.
Loggerheads, the species that nests most commonly in Florida, did not have an increase in numbers this year. The nest count for this federally threatened sea turtle was close to average for the previous five years. However, since 1998, the trend in the number of loggerhead nests is a general decline.
“We’re pleased with the green turtle and leatherback nesting totals in 2011,” said Dr. Blair Witherington, an FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute scientist. “Nesting by both species has been rising dramatically and can be attributed at least in part to major conservation efforts over the past few decades. However, our loggerhead nesting totals have declined or are at best stable, which suggests that this species has a different, and perhaps more difficult, set of conservation challenges,” he said.
Nest counts are performed each year through Florida’s Index Nesting Beach Survey, which was created to measure seasonal sea turtle nesting, and to allow for accurate comparisons of beaches and years. The standardized index counts take place on 255 miles of selected beaches along both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.