Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program has coordinated conservation of endangered sea turtles along 35 miles of Sarasota County beaches the past 34 years.
Scientists say 2015 was a record-breaking season for sea turtle nests along Mote-monitored beaches from Longboat Key through Venice.
This year was the highest reported in 34 years, with 2,475 nests, beating the 2012 record by six nests.
“We think that it really has to do with all of the conservation efforts that were started 34 years ago and continuing,” said Kristen Mazzarella, senior biologist with Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. “Turtle nesting occurs about 25 years after the turtle hatches. So, they’ll start laying eggs and that’s why it took about 25 years before we saw the change.”
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Out of those nests, 340 were laid along Longboat Key in Manatee County, beating its previous 2013 record of 327 nests; 698 nests were laid along the entirety of Longboat Key, beating its 2013 record of 643 nests; 408 nests were laid along Siesta Key, beating its 1995 record of 343 nests; and a total of 36 green sea turtle nests were laid along the 35 mile stretch of beaches, which broke Mote’s previous record of 30 green turtle nests in 2013.
“This year was such an incredibly successful year for sea turtle nesting numbers, which is great to see as these animals are endangered,” said Mazzarella. “As we start to see nesting numbers increase, we know communicating the urgency of conservation efforts for future generations is vital now more than ever before. It's exciting to consider how our local research, conservation and education efforts here at Mote may be helping with this positive change.”
Although the sea turtle nesting season is over, Mote is already preparing for next year and collecting donations.
Sea turtle nesting season runs from May 1 through October 31.