By Tamas Mondovics
Turning his attention away from the daily grind of legislative priorities, transportation, housing market and other issues, Florida Governor Rick Scott shared happier news with Floridian wildlife lovers last month.
Scott was pleased to announce a record year for the number of green sea turtle nests in Florida. In 2011, the count was 10,701; in 2013, it was 25,553, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) documented another big jump, approximately 28,000 green sea turtle nests on 26 Florida beaches this year.
“It’s exciting to hear that our efforts to protect Florida’s environment are helping the sea turtle population thrive,” Scott stated in his press release commenting on a recent report from the FWC.
Based on additional data from the FWC, Scott emphasized that the trend for green sea turtles shows an increase in nesting over the past 27 years and that nearly 30 years ago only 464 green turtle nests were recorded on the same beaches (covering 200 miles) that are part of the Index Besting Beach Survey program.
The counts represent about 68 percent of green turtle nesting statewide. Results of the FWC Statewide Nesting Beach Survey program, which documents nearly all sea turtle nesting in Florida on 800 miles of coastline, will be available in early 2016.
While the focus was on green sea turtles, named for their green body fat, they are only one of five species of sea turtles found swimming in Florida’s waters and nesting on Florida’s beaches.
All sea turtles found in Florida are protected under state statutes and include loggerhead sea turtles—the most prevalent sea turtle species on Florida’s shores accounting for more than 50,000 nests on index beaches this year—as well as leatherback, Kemp’s ridley and the hawksbill, a small, agile turtle known for its beautiful tortoise-colored shell.
After helping to release two loggerhead turtles into their natural Florida habitat, Scott said, “We are committed to protecting our state’s natural treasures so future generations of Floridians will be able to enjoy them.”
For more information about trends in sea turtle nest counts on Florida beaches, visit www.MyFWC.com/Research.