Turtle nesting season off to strong start on Florida beaches

FILE PHOTO (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Florida’s turtle nesting season is off to a strong start, wildlife officials said.

The University of Central Florida’s Marine Turtle Research Group recently tagged 1,752 loggerhead turtle nests, 29 leatherback nests and three green turtle nests along the 13 miles (20.9 kilometers) of the National Wildlife Refuge in Brevard County, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

That represents a higher leatherback count than in a typical season, which continues through July, researchers said. It’s also the second earliest date UCF researchers have spotted a green turtle nest.

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Along Indian River County’s beaches, Coastal Connections, counted 531 loggerhead nests and 37 leatherback nests as of May 15. They expect to see green turtle nests soon, researchers said. 

The shutdown of business and beaches is not the only reason turtles are thriving, the newspaper reported.

“Sea turtles are doing well so far this season in our area. But they didn’t show up in Brevard County just because there were fewer people on the beach,” said Erin Seney, an assistant research scientist at UCF. “They were already on their way — they may have come from the Bahamas, from Southwest Florida, from other regions.”

Mild winter temperatures likely helped the sea turtles along in their migration to Florida’s beaches, researchers said.