Well done, 2015. Yet another record was set this year, this time regarding the number of green sea turtle nests on the beaches of Florida. According to Kate Mansfield, lead researcher from University of Central Florida’s Marine Turtle Research Group, the beaches that the University has been monitoring in the 1980s had reported roughly 50 nests every year.
During the last few years, however, conservationists have been thrilled to report that the number of nests has been gradually increasing, with 2015 marking the greatest spike. Some weeks to go before the end of season, but scientists have already announced a new record among the nests of the endangered turtles.
Each season, the drill is the same: volunteers and researchers at the Marine Turtle Research group count the sea turtles that make nests in Brevard County Florida all the way down to the end of the nesting season. So far, this year has boasted more than 12,000 nests, which already whooshes by the 2013 record of 11,839 nests.
Mansfield explained that this is clearly a remarkable comeback story among the nesting phenomena, illustrating a ‘perfect-storm’ when it comes to conservation success. However, it’s important that the turtles are protected past the nesting season, as the species’ reproduction cycle starts only when they are around 25 years old.
Therefore, scientists are cautious in their thrill about the recovery of the green sea turtle population, as it would take several decades before knowing for sure if the improved nesting trend is long-lasting.
Present experience needs to be framed by a broader perspective, she said, as the promising past five years will have to be reflected in a 25 plus years horizon. Protection programs in conducted in both Carolinas and in Georgia are believed to be a strong contributor for this comeback.
This is the 5th season in six years that Georgia has surpassed previous record nesting; researchers and students have counted more than 2,200 loggerhead nests so far.
Mark Dodd, from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, is in charge of the sea turtle recovery program; he explained that each good year boosts the researchers’ confidence that the rebound period is here to stay.
For almost 4 decades, the green sea turtles have been endangered, a lapse that is just now beginning to turn around. Experts are encouraged by the numbers that affirm the theory that these threatened species are finally recovery, which means that they are doing well under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
Image Source: RSMAS