Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Florida Fish & Wildlife Monitors Tropical Storm Colin's Damage To Sea Turtle Nests

A sea turtle nest marked after Tropical Storm Colin hit Florida
Sea turtle nests marked on Cocoa Beach, Florida after Tropical Storm Colin. Credit: Brevard Times

TALLAHASSEE, Florida - In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Colin, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is assessing damage to sea turtle nests along Florida’s coasts. High water from the storm flooded many nests from Northwest Florida through the Southwest Gulf Coast.

FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley visited St. George Island on Florida's Gulf Coast 75 miles southwest of Tallahassee, one of the areas where sea turtle nests were most impacted by the storm.  

“This is a top priority for the agency,” said Wiley. “We want Florida’s sea turtles to have another successful nesting season and we will continue to work with FWC’s Marine Turtle Permit Holders to help make that happen.”

From now through the end of October, three different species of sea turtle will land on Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coast beaches to lay their eggs during the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Sea turtles have a natural nesting strategy that accommodates for natural events like storms.  

MARCH - JULY: Leatherback sea turtles begin to come ashore from March through July to lay their eggs. Florida is the only state in the continental U.S. where leatherback sea turtles regularly nest. 

APRIL - SEPTEMBER: Loggerhead sea turtles typically nest in Florida from April through September. In the United States, 90 percent of all loggerhead nesting occurs in Florida.

JUNE - SEPTEMBER: Green sea turtle nesting in Florida occurs from June through late September with the highest concentration of nests along Florida's east coast - but green turtle nests have been found in every coastal county of the Sunshine State. 

FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley on St. George Island with a volunteer. Credit: FWC

The FWC will be coordinating with FWC Marine Turtle Permit Holders on affected beaches to determine the level of impact on the nests. The permit holders are volunteers who are permitted to monitor and observe Florida turtle nesting sites. Damaged nests will be re-marked so that permit holders can determine if they hatch.