TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — There’s good news for green sea turtles in the state of Florida.
Green sea turtle nests have exceeded the state’s expectations this year, according to wildlife officials who report a record number of nests.
More than 25,000 green sea turtle nests were counted on 26 state beaches. That’s more than twice the previous record, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists said Wednesday.
“We are astounded and pleased by the high number of green turtle nests documented in 2013,” said Blair Witherington, a researcher with the commission. “It looks like the years of conservation efforts for this endangered species are paying off.”
The commission has been monitoring sea turtle nests on specific “index beaches” since 1989. Researchers use the surveys to identify nesting trends, and the data complements annual surveys of nesting on nearly all sandy beaches in Florida.
In 1989, only 464 green sea turtle nests were documented.
Researchers say leatherback sea turtle nests also have risen dramatically since 1989. However, the tally for leatherback nests this year was down from 2012’s total.
The number of loggerhead sea turtle nests is also down from last year. Researchers say loggerheads have not recovered as much as other sea turtle species.
The loggerhead is threatened and the green and leatherback are endangered, but all sea turtles are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and the Florida Marine Protection Act. It is against the law to touch or disturb nesting sea turtles, hatchlings or their nests.
Nesting season in Florida runs from March through October on the Atlantic coast and from May through October on the Gulf Coast.
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