Expert says Elsa destroyed hundreds of sea turtle nests in Collier County

Published: July 15, 2021 5:27 PM EDT
Updated: July 15, 2021 6:52 PM EDT

Southwest Florida sea turtle nests were washed away after Elsa passed along the coast of the region, and county leaders are checking the status and the damages the species suffered.

For more than 30 years, Maura Kraus, a Collier County environmental specialist, has gone up and down the beaches to check on sea turtle nests.

Like clockwork, Kraus and her team start collecting data every year on April 15.

“We had over 1,300 nests on all of the Collier County beaches, including the islands, and Elsa took away, washed out, 144 nests in the whole county,” Kraus explained.

On top of that, 396 nests were covered by Elsa’s storm surge.

“It’s kind of a bummer,” Kraus said. “It does affect us. We’ve been out here since April 15, seven days a week, and when you see all your hard work and all the data we’ve collected, to see a washout, it’s kind of distressing.”

Kraus did not expect Elsa to be so destructive.

“I thought it was a little bit worse because I’d been watching the Pier camera the whole day before, and everything was nice and flat and calm,” Kraus said. “But then we got the other side of the storm, and during the high tides, the waves came and impacted the beach.”

Hurricane season and nesting season overlap, and Elsa caused noticeable erosion on the beach.

Current waves being seen along the shore are a best friend to a sea turtle nest presently.

“These are the healing waves,” Kraus said. “The healing waves will bring sand back.”