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Sad News: 800 Sea Turtle Nests Destroyed by Hurricane Matthew

Oct 13, 2016 06:15 AM EDT
Sea Turtle Eggs
About 800 sea turtle nests were destroyed as Hurrican Matthew skirted along the Florida's Atlantic coastline.
(Photo : Putu Sayoga/Getty Images)

The devastation brought about by the strong gusts and rain of Hurricane Matthew did not only impacted lives of humans but also destroyed about 800 sea turtle nests along the northern Palm Beach County.

According to the report from Palm Beach Post, about 63 percent of the 1,250 nests that were not hatched before Hurricane Matthew skirted Florida's Atlantic shoreline were lost in the storm. On the other hand, about 450 nests survived the storm and are still incubating.

Official and conservation organization was not able to rescue the nest because they are barred from moving the nest. Due to the high risk of movement-induced mortality, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations bars anyone from moving the nest, even with a threat of hurricane.

Sea turtle eggs are buried in the sand and is unaffected even by strong winds. However, storm surge and subsequent beach erosion could leave the eggs exposed and increase the risk of mortality.

Most of the affected nests belong to green sea turtles. Green sea turtles are listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. In the last three decades, green sea turtles have made a spectacular comeback. Their population has seen dramatic increase in the past three decades that federal wildlife officials have reclassified 8 out of 11 global populations of green sea turtles as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.

"It's one of the great stories in the history of wildlife conservation in North America," said Dr. Llewellyn Ehrhart, one of the world's foremost sea turtle nesting experts, in a report from WESH 2 News.

Despite the high numbers of lost nests holding about hundreds of sea turtle egg, federal officials claim that the impact is only minimal because it occurred during a record-breaking year for nesting. Nearly 15,000 sea turtle have already hatched along the 10-mile stretch beach from Donald Ross Road north to Jonathan Dickinson State Park, representing 92 percent success rate for this year's nesting season.

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