2011 a banner year for 2 Florida sea turtle species
Monday, October 10, 2011
Media contact: Carli Segelson, 727-896-8626
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.
In one of the largest wildlife counts in the nation, hundreds of
FWC partners diligently survey Florida's nesting beaches throughout
the sea turtle nesting season.
"We are grateful for the large number of partners and volunteers
that make this survey possible," Witherington said. "Without them,
we couldn't collect nesting data on such a large scale."
The FWC's role in coordinating Florida's sea turtle nest counts
is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and sales of the
state's sea turtle license
For more information about sea
turtle nest counts, visit MyFWC.com/Research, click on
"Wildlife," then click on "Nesting" under the "Sea Turtle"
Sick or injured sea turtles can be reported by contacting the
FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).