COVID-19 Pandemic Could Create a Massive Influx of Baby Sea Turtles in Florida

by Halle Ames
COVID-19-Pandemic-Could-Create-Massive-Influx-Baby-Sea-Turtles-Florida

Not all bad has come from the pandemic. With fewer people traveling, animal populations have been able to get the break they’ve needed. Sea turtle numbers could see a massive spike in Florida. 

According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, nearly 90 percent of sea turtle nests are located on Florida’s beaches from March until October. During this time, tourists usually flood the beaches. But this year, the areas are clear for the turtles to make their nests safely.

On the other hand, hurricanes have continuously slammed Florida‘s shores, making it hard for the animals. The United States is currently at 25 storms with names in 2020, the most ever. Hurricane Isaias, in particular, destroyed around 2,000 turtle nests. 

Sea Turtle Numbers in Florida

However, it isn’t slowing down sea turtle numbers.

“We actually did find a significant difference during the beach closures and then after in terms of a successful rate of nesting,” says Justin Perrault, director of research for the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The center is a nonprofit emphasizes education, research, and rehabilitation of sea turtles. 

The marine life center has reportedly observed nearly 17,000 nests along beaches in Juno, Jupiter-Carlin, and Tequesta this year. 

“During the closures, loggerheads successfully nested 61 percent of the time,” Perrault says. “When the beaches reopened, that number dropped to 46 percent.”  

Further south, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Sea Turtle Program reported 926 loggerhead nests this year. Other programs and preserves along the coasts of Florida have seen similar results.

From Longboat Key to Venice, a 35-mile stretch, 3,716 nests were recorded. This is the fourth-highest number in the 39-year history of the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. 

In Brevard County, research groups logged 12,968 loggerhead, 8,102 green, and 40 leatherback nests. According to the Archie Carr National Wildlife Preserve director Kate Mansfield, the loggerhead numbers are where experts predicted. In addition, leatherback turtles “had a good year.” The green sea turtles numbers were higher than projected. 

Under the Endangered Species Act and Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act, it prohibits people from messing with turtle nests unless associated with specific scientific, educational, and conservation organizations.

[H/T National Geographic]

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