Rare giant loggerhead sea turtles which are endangered, have been breaking nesting records along the beaches in North and South Carolina and Georgia this summer.
These turtles weigh up to 300 pounds and an estimated 12,200 nests have been left by them this season. The last highest count seen was 11,321 nests in 2016.
Researchers and volunteers have been cataloging the record number of nests on southeast beaches, with decades of conservation efforts bearing fruition in the recent months.
Typically, these turtles nest from May to August, and are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Mark Dodd, a biologist leading the recovery of Georgia’s sea turtles, has said that this increase could be due to strict monitoring and escape hatches for turtles in shrimp boats. Survival to maturity and reproductive age to be able to lay eggs has been promoted for these turtles for decades now, according to Michelle Pate, who thinks efforts are reaping benefits finally.
Loggerhead turtles from the Atlantic Ocean are said to lay about 100 eggs which are sized as big as ping-pong balls, in every nest. During their nesting season, volunteers along the cost note the number of nests and cover them with screens to protect them at sunrise.
Over 3500 nests were cataloged in Georgia and 7100 more were found in South Carolina. North Carolina approached a record 1622 nests. Florida has more nests than any other state annually and so an official count is conducted only at the end of every season. In 2016, 122,707 nests had been spotted, setting their record.
A researcher at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Beth Mongiovi, has said that so far, Florida is seeing a good season. She did say, however, that it was difficult to say whether this year was record-breaking or not, as it was too early to make estimates.