PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has confirmed that three-fourths of the turtles nests in the 21 miles of beach monitored by their Sea Turtle Conservation Program Team were impacted by Tropical Storm Elsa.
The aquarium did not give an exact number of nests impacted, but said after patrols by the team on Wednesday and Thursday, approximately three quarters of nests on the beaches were impacted by rain and storm surge, with some nests actually still under sitting water.
The conservation program team checked the span of beach after conditions were deemed safe. The team will now work to replace markers and signs for sea turtle nests, as well as update their own data.
“It will take us a few days to ‘clear’ the beaches for public access,” aquarium officials told 8 On Your Side. “This typically includes a delay in placing any hotel cabanas, furniture, and beach cleaning that may occur.”
In a Facebook post, the aquarium explained that, “Sea turtles have a nesting strategy that accommodates such natural events. Each nesting female turtle deposits several nests throughout the nesting season – essentially hedging her bets to make sure that even if a storm hits at some point during the nesting season, there is a high probability that at least a few of the nests will incubate successfully.”
The post goes on to state information from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, saying no storm is ever a total loss for Florida’s sea turtles, even when the state has suffered a direct hit.
If you see a mother sea turtle or hatchling in distress, do not interfere and call the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Sea Turtle Conservation Program hotline at 727-441-1790 ext. 1.