World's rarest sea turtle makes its way back to Volusia County

It's sea turtle nesting season, and a rare and endangered breed has come to Volusia County to do just that. 

A Kemp's ridley sea turtle was seen nesting in Ponce Inlet on Monday, according to a spokesperson from Volusia County. But this isn't her first time nesting here. 

The Marine Science Center started tracking her in 2005 and she has since returned to the county eight times to nest, the county said. She laid her first batch of eggs in Ponce Inlet a few weeks ago. 

A Kemp ridley's sea turtle was seen nesting in Ponce Inlet on Monday. (Photo: Volusia County)

This is special because Kemp's ridley sea turtles are a rare species in Florida, since these turtles mainly breed in Mexico. 

"The Kemp's ridley is the rarest sea turtle in the world and is the most endangered. It has only one major nesting beach, an area called Rancho Nuevo on the Gulf coast of Mexico," according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

Only 26 Kemp's ridley sea turtle nests have been recorded in Volusia County since 1996, according to the county. 

The county has recorded three Kemp's ridley nests in Ponce Inlet and one in New Smyrna Beach in this nesting season alone.

"Across the state, only 13, including the four in Volusia County, Kemp's ridley nests have been recorded as of May 31," the county added. 

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Kemp ridley's aren't the only sea turtles that have been nesting in Volusia County. According to the county, there have been 283 nests reported, including six leatherback, one green and 272 loggerhead nests. 

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Sea turtles usually nest at night, but Kemp ridley's nest during the day.   

Hatchlings are expected to surface in the coming weeks. 

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Volusia County is asking people who plan to go to the beach to be mindful during sea turtle nesting season. 

"Beachgoers should flatten sandcastles, fill in holes, and remove chairs and equipment at the end of the day to avoid obstructing nesting and hatchling sea turtles," the county said. "Beachfront lighting poses a threat by deterring nesting females and disorienting hatchlings, drawing them toward danger instead of the ocean.

"Residents can help by redirecting lights away from the beach and turning them off when not in use, allowing natural moonlight and starlight to guide the turtles."

Volusia County is asking people who plan to go to the beach to be mindful during sea turtle nesting season. (Photo: Volusia County)

Sea Turtle nesting season is from May 1 through Oct. 31. 

Click here for more information about Volusia County's turtle-friendly lighting or call 386-238-4773.