FWC: good nesting season for turtles - WFLA News Channel 8

FWC: good nesting season for turtles

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL -

October 31st marks the last day of sea turtle nesting season, and wildlife officials say it's been a record year.

Specifically, it's been a big year for green sea turtle nests.

Related story: Number of green sea turtle nests doubles in Florida

That species is endangered, and Florida wildlife officials say the number of green sea turtle nests was the highest it had ever seen.

Officials say the trend is a result of a number of factors-

For one, there's been increased public awareness about the dangers humans can cause to sea turtles.

Also over the years there have been new fishing guidelines in place to protect the turtles in the water.

One official said even the lack of big hurricanes in Florida could've played a role.

But all in all, it's good news for our threatened sea turtles.

When you live near the beach, the months of May through October is the prime season to spot baby sea turtles.

Suzi Fox has turned it into a career. She's been monitoring sea turtle nests on Anna Maria Island for decades, and she says this year has been special.

Fox said, "This is our highest numbers we have seen in 30 years. We have three times the nesting that we have ever had."

And it's a trend being seen across the state.

All sea turtle species are either threatened or endangered.

So wildlife officials keep a close log of the number of nests across the state. And the numbers for green sea turtle nests have been astounding.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says in 1989, they only reported 464 green sea turtle nests and this year, they documented more than 25,000!

"Back in the 60s, green turtles were near about extinct,” said Fox.

State officials also report strong numbers of nests for threatened loggerhead sea turtles.

FWC counted 44,810 Loggerhead sea turtle nests in 2013, slightly down from last year.

Fox says in all, more than 20,000 baby sea turtles hatched in Anna Maria Island this year.

One interesting trend she's noticed that has helped sea turtle births is lighting.

Hatchlings follow the moonlight to go to the sea, and in recent years, Anna Maria and other municipalities have put a high importance on controlling the light on the beach.

Fox said, "In 1990, there was not an area on Anna Maria that we could release sea turtles where they would go directly into the water because lights were too bright."

But she says people are now more educated about sea turtle dangers and folks are keeping the lights out.

Turtle nesting season may end on Thursday, but you still have to be careful at the beach.

There are still nests where turtles have to hatch, so if you ever spot any, leave the nests alone and avoid using flashlights at the beach.

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