Florida County Sees Record Year for Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtle Nests

The 79 nests laid in Broward County this year is nearly double the previous record.

It was a banner year for leatherback sea turtles in the Sunshine State!

Wildlife experts were pleasantly surprised to report a record number of leatherback turtle nests found along South Florida beaches this year.

A Baby Leatherback Turtle Hatchling In A Trail To The Ocean
Aruba Paradise Photos/Getty Images

According to the Sun Sentinel, the 79 nests laid by the turtles in Broward County this year is nearly double the previous record, which was 46 in 2012. The record low for leatherback nests in the county was 12 in 2017.

"It's difficult to say why Broward County saw such an increase in leatherback nesting this season," Stephanie Kedzuf, a biologist for Broward County, told the newspaper.

Leatherbacks, the largest sea turtles on Earth, can grow up to seven feet and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. The species is currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. According to NOAA, it is estimated that their global population has declined 40% over the past three generations.

The nesting season for leatherback sea turtles runs from March 1 to October 31. Under natural conditions, roughly 10% of hatchlings will be eaten by predators on the beach. Only about 25% of those that make it to the ocean will survive the first few days in the water. Only 6% of those will last the first year.

Florida beaches account for 70% of the nation's sea turtle nesting. In addition to leatherbacks, Broward County beaches also serve as a consistent nesting habitat for the loggerhead sea turtle and the green sea turtle. All three species are considered endangered or threatened.

A total of 2,795 nests of sea turtles of all species have been recorded along Broward County beaches this year.

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