Endangered Sea Turtles are Laying Eggs at Record Pace

Loggerhead sea turtles are experiencing a booming nesting season along the Georgia coast.

Aug 16, 2019

Endangered loggerhead sea turtles are experiencing a booming and maybe record-breaking nesting records this year on the Georgia coast and much of the southeastern US.

So far this nesting season which runs from May through the end of August, more than 3,500 nests have been recorded Mark Dodd, the state biologist who heads the Georgia sea turtle recovery program told the Associated Press. He believes that the final count could be up to 4,500 nests.

Female loggerheads only lay eggs every three to four years after they are around 30-years old and typically lay around 100 ping pong-sized eggs per nest but not all of them hatch.

"They've [the nesting females] been able to survive to maturity and reproduce and come back to lay eggs, said Michelle Pate, who heads the sea turtle program for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, "it's been a long haul, but I think we're finally seeing it pay off."

Scientists are crediting conservation measures that began over 40 years ago for the rebound of the sea turtles. The species was declared endangered and threatened in 1978 due to declining populations. Other species of sea turtles were also declared endangered.

According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the population declined due to a loss of nesting habitat from the development of coastal properties, commercial fishing, ocean pollution, and bright lights along the coast.

The endangered status gave the loggerheads federal protection. This according to the National Wildlife Federation allowed for regular monitoring of the populations, changes to fishing practices including turtle exclusion devices (TEDs), turtle escape hatches in fishing nets, closures of nesting areas to commercial fishing, and lighting ordinances to reduce the disorientation of baby turtles.

Conservationists are busy taking care of the nests so that the loggerheads have the best chance for survival. Volunteers comb the shoreline during the nesting season to catalog new nests and cover them with protective screens to keep predators away until the eggs hatch.

The protective measures are working, and record numbers of nests attests to that. But there is no time to rest on those laurels. Now that the population is rebounding, it is time to work even harder to protect the loggerheads.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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