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Sea Turtles Are Nesting in Record Numbers

Once pushed to endangerment, nesting sea turtle numbers are soaring

smithsonian.com

A green sea turtle. Photo: Roy Niswanger

We drove green sea turtles to the brink of extinction, by hunting them, collecting their eggs and killing them, accidentally, with fishing equipment. In 1978, says EarthSky, green sea turtles became protected under the Endangered Species Act, and it looks like those protections are bearing some benefit for the turtles. In the southeast United States, says the Fish and Wildlife Service, green sea turtles are nesting in record numbers:

“Green turtle nest numbers are through the roof,” says Bill Miller manager of Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, FL., where a mid-August count of 1,147 more than doubled the 2011 record of 543. At Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, FL, greens had built 10,420 nests by August 21, topping the 2011 record of 6,023. Nesting season won’t end until November.

Loggerheads are doing better, too, says the FWS, though their gains aren’t as dramatic as the green sea turtles. But just because there should be lots of baby sea turtles on the horizon, says the FWS, doesn’t mean the turtles are safe:

ow long nesting gains will offset threats to sea turtle survival is unknown. Says Miller, “If we don’t do something about ocean debris, loss of habitat to erosion and sea level rise, and the pollution of lagoons and estuaries from runoff, nesting gains will be outweighed by environmental degradations.”

More from Smithsonian.com:

Captive Sea Turtles Extract Their Revenge by Making Tourists Sick
The ‘FlipperBot’ Is Almost as Cute as the Baby Sea Turtles It Mimics

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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