From Florida Today in the USA:
Loggerhead turtle nests rebound in Brevard
Nesting increases at wildlife refuge
BY JIM WAYMER • FLORIDA TODAY • September 21, 2010
These “loggers” are on a roll.
Loggerhead sea turtles dug the most nests since 2002 this year at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, a key beach that typically echoes how turtle nesting fares statewide.
While the endangered green sea turtle has rebounded in recent years — they’re on pace for another record year at Carr — loggers have struggled to emerge from a long-term slump.
This year, they defied the odds, dodging the BP blowout, a frigid winter and wash back from storms, to post 12,300 nests at the refuge. That’s up almost 3,000, or 40 percent, from last year. So biologists are hopeful the numbers hint at healthier future growth curves for the threatened species.
“It’s a little hard to say exactly what it means, but there is certainly some room for cautious optimism now,” said Llew Ehrhart, a University of Central Florida professor emeritus of biology, who studies sea turtles.
He monitors turtle nesting at the Carr refuge, which has what beach biologists call one of the most important beaches for nesting sea turtles in the world. It’s also the span of shore that most closely reflects statewide turtle nesting trends.
Logger nesting at the refuge peaked in 1998 at a record 17,729 nests, then dropped six years in a row to about 7,600 nests in 2004.
“Their numbers just fell off like crazy,” Ehrhart said.
Four hurricanes in 2004, and possibly some cold water, caused huge drops in loggerhead sea turtle nesting statewide and in Brevard, where some beaches saw nine of every 10 nests destroyed.
The dip and ongoing threats from commercial fishing prompted the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this year to propose switching some of the logger’s population segments from “threatened” to “endangered.”
Some worry that would result in the federal government prohibiting popular nighttime turtle walks in which people watch loggers nest.
This year’s nesting success may be in part because tropical cyclones formed so far east in the Atlantic, steered out to sea and clear of nesting beaches.
“The green turtles, the news is even better,” Ehrhart said, referring to the 3,950 nests so far at Archie Carr. He expects to top the record 3,963 nests in 2007. That’s up from fewer than 50 nests in 1982.
… Earlier this month, one of the largest baby sea turtle relocations in the nation’s history came to a close as biologists let go the last of about 15,000 turtles hatched at Kennedy Space Center, refugees of the BP blowout.
The Marine Turtles: Beautiful, Exotic, and Endangered: here.
One in three loggerhead turtles in the Adriatic Sea has plastic in its intestine, according to researchers studying the impact of debris on marine life: here.
- Sandy’s Surge Hit Baby Sea Turtle Boom (livescience.com)
- Threats to Sea Turtles: Abaco, Bahamas… & in Fact Everywhere (rollingharbour.com)