WATCH: What Hurricane Dorian Means for Georgia’s Record-Breaking Number of Sea Turtle Nests
The Florida nests in Dorian's wake provide a preview of what's to come in Georgia.
After a banner season for loggerhead sea turtle nesting in Georgia, animal activists are worried about what Hurricane Dorian could mean for the remaining eggs.
In July, with a few months still left in nesting season, researchers had counted 3,800 loggerhead sea turtle nests in Georgia, smashing the previous record.
Today on Jekyll Island, a known safe haven for sea turtles, officials tell 11 Alive that an estimated 20 percent of the nests are still incubating underground. They expect to lose most of them to the powerful and slow-moving hurricane. Loggerhead sea turtles nest every three years.
"Hatchlings that are emerging and working their way up to the surface are actually breathing and if they are inundated, they will drown in there," David Godfrey, executive director of the non-profit Sea Turtle Conservancy, told the station.
Fortunately, the occupants of 80 percent of this summer's nearly 4,000 nests have already hatched.
"A lot of the really large numbers of turtle nests that were deposited this year have already emerged and the hatchlings have safely made it to the sea," Godfrey continued. "That's the silver lining."
As Hurricane Dorian continues her slow plod up the East Coast, the nests in her wake provide a preview of what's to come in Georgia. Florida resident Alan Mulcahy provided photos to Southern Living of sea turtle eggs that had been unearthed and destroyed by the storm surge and erosion in Jupiter Beach.
If you come across an exposed nest or egg, Godrey advised leaving it alone.
"It is unfortunate and somewhat tragic to think about," he told WLRN. "Many of these beaches where the turtles are, we're expecting them to be completely overrun, completely washed out. And so even if you move them back or up into the dune, that's not going to survive either."