Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Florida Times-Union Reports Decline of Some 28% in Turtle Nests in St. Johns County in One Year -- Yet T-U's Headline says "doing well!!!!!"

Sea turtles still doing well in Northeast Florida

Posted: December 29, 2011 - 2:23pm | Updated: December 30, 2011 - 3:38am
Provided by Dawna Moore  This hatchling was found in late August on Amelia Island. Sea turtle nesting went well for a second straight year.Provided by Dawna Moore This hatchling was found in late August on Amelia Island. Sea turtle nesting went well for a second straight year.

Here are the number of sea turtle nests counted on Northeast Florida beaches in 2011:

St. Johns County: 638 nests (down from 885 in 2010).

Nassau County: 124 nests (down from over 200 in 2010).

Duval County: 56 nests (down from 79 in 2010).

Sea turtle nesting continued at a high rate in Northeast Florida’s coastal counties for the second straight year, despite the interference of beach renourishment projects in some areas, experts said.

Tara Dodson, St. Johns County environmental coordinator, said the trends are encouraging.

“It was definitely an up year,” Dodson said. “This year wasn’t as high as last year but it was over our average.”

Dodson said it’s difficult to pinpoint why sea turtle nesting is doing so well, but environmental regulations may be contributing.

“It’s not just that we’re seeing an increase; other areas are seeing an increase,” Dodson said. “That could be dedicated to the fact that 25 to 30 years ago is when federal restrictions went into place. The actual maturity for a sea turtle is 25 to 30 years of age.”

Mary Duffy, president of Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch, said the numbers from the past three years are encouraging. But she’s not ready to say sea turtles have fully recovered.

“This isn’t something that can be determined over two years or three years. It takes sometimes 20 years to determine that the trend is recovery,” Duffy said. “Just a couple years ago everyone said that the loggerhead species was declining.”

The nesting numbers for the stretch of shoreline between Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach was off by nearly 50 percent from 2010. The director of the Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol, Jennifer Burns, said all study was basically put off since the beach renourishment project started in the middle of the summer, during the peak of nesting season.

“We were only half of last year,” Burns said. “There are normal fluctuations from year to year … but we had that renourishment project going on this year.”

At Huguenot park, turtle watchers recorded a new high with 19 sea turtle nests, up from 17 last year.

drew.dixon@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4098

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2011-12-29/story/sea-turtles-still-doing-well-northeast-florida#ixzz1iQN4DhXr

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