Green sea turtles are staging a comeback. For the second time in the past three years, there are a record-breaking number of nests along Florida beaches.
Recently researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) counted 12,026 nests in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge along the coast of Brevard County. This far surpasses their last record set in 2013 of 11,839 nests, and in fact, is the first time green sea turtle nest counts have exceeded 12,000, a release noted.
"This is really a comeback story," Kate Mansfield, a UCF assistant professor of biology and lead of the Marine Turtle Research Group, said in the release. "Back in the 1980s the beaches UCF monitored hosted less than 50 green turtle nests a year. It is a really remarkable recovery and reflects a ‘perfect storm' of conservation successes-from the establishment of the Archie Carr, to implementing the Endangered Species Act, among many other conservation initiatives. It will be very exciting to see what happens over the next 20 plus years."
The Marine Turtle Research Group at UCF is comprised of a team of students who monitor turtle counts on the beach during turtle nesting season, which lasts from May 1 to October 1 each year.
The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) is one of the largest of sea turtle species and is named for the greenish color of the cartilage and fat found under their shells. These turtles are mainly found in tropical and subtropical waters, and are still considered endangered. Aside from disease, a major contributing factor to their decline is being hunted for their eggs and meat.
The researchers hope that this milestone provides hope for sea turtle species' recovery.
A video of the baby green turtles heading toward the ocean from the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge can be found online.
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