Published: Nov 27, 2011 5:45 PM EST

COCOA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Researchers say massive blooms of jellyfish in Volusia and Brevard counties may be helping leatherback sea turtles make a comeback.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Friday that the number of nests dug at Florida beaches for leatherbacks has been increasing over the past two decades. This year's count is 600 nests, one of the highest ever at beaches tracked for long-term trends.

Kelly Stewart is a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She says jellyfish are the preferred food source for leatherback sea turtles, and that could help the female turtles reproduce more often.

Although a connection between more jellyfish and more leatherback nests offers a possible explanation for the resurgence of the turtles, Stewart notes that further study is needed.

Leatherbacks are one of Florida's endangered species.

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