FWC Reports Good Year For Sea Turtle Nesting
By mattohern // October 8, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — In 2014, loggerhead turtle nest numbers remained high and leatherback turtle nesting reached a new record in the state according to FWC research scientists.
“Sea turtles face many important threats at sea and on land, which need to be addressed for the recovery of these charismatic and endangered species, but the results of the 2014 nesting season in Florida are encouraging and provide a positive outlook for the future”, said Dr. Simona Ceriani, FWC research scientist.
The monitoring program on sea turtle nesting in Florida is an outstanding collaboration involving more than 2,000 individuals with diverse backgrounds who share a common passion for sea turtles. The extensive data collection from more than 800 miles of beach is made possible with the help of FWC-trained and authorized surveyors from conservation organizations; universities; federal, state and local governments; and hundreds of private citizens.
The FWC and partners perform two annual surveys: a statewide survey that began in 1979, which documents nearly all sea turtle nesting in Florida, and an index survey, which pools data from select beaches that have consistent monitoring during a specific 109-day window to detect trends in nesting.
Loggerhead nest counts in 2014 were slightly higher than in 2013. Loggerhead nest numbers in Florida show a complex pattern: nest counts have increased, then decreased, then increased again. Despite the variable pattern, the overall trend in this species’ nest numbers is positive.
Green turtle nesting trends show an exponential increase over the last 26 years, although counts in 2014 were much lower than last year. This was expected because green turtle nesting patterns tend to follow a two-year cycle with wide year-to-year fluctuations. Green turtle nest counts set two consecutive high records in 2011 and 2013.
Although nesting at a much lower level than loggerheads, the nest counts for leatherback turtles reached a new record high in the state in 2014, showing a slight increase over the previous high in 2009. The trend in leatherback nesting shows an exponential increase over the last 26 years.
For more information about trends in sea turtle nest counts, visit MyFWC.com/Research, click on “Wildlife,” then click on “Nesting” under the “Sea Turtle” heading. To purchase a sea turtle license plate to help fund FWC’s efforts, visit BuyaPlate.com.
Report sick or injured sea turtles to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).