TCPalm: Latest sea turtle nest data: Greens drop drastically, leatherbacks lag, loggerheads steady

Article Posted on February 13, 2019

By: Tyler Treadway, Treasure Coast Newspapers

It's a case of how numbers can be deceiving.

The number of nests laid in 2018 by green sea turtles on the Treasure Coast and throughout Florida is dramatically lower than 2017's numbers.

But Niki Desjardin, senior scientist at Ecological Associates Inc. in Jensen Beach, which monitors nests in parts of all three Treasure Coast counties, says not to worry.

The number of leatherback nests in 2018 was slightly higher than in 2017; but Desjardin is worried about them.

And loggerheads, by far the most prolific nesters on the Treasure Coast, "just keep coasting along," Desjardin said. "No worries there."

It's all about long-term nesting trends, Desjardin said, not year-to-year comparisons.

Nest numbers from throughout the state were released Wednesday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

A drop in green turtle nests in 2018 was expected after record numbers in 2017 because the species follows a pattern of high one year, low the next, then high, then low ...

And even though the stats show the number of green turtle nests statewide dropped by nearly 90 percent from 53,102 in 2017 to 4,545 in 2018, "the nesting trend is still increasing dramatically over the years," Desjardin said.

The trend in leatherback nests has been just the opposite, Desjardin said: steadily downward.

"That's got me a little concerned," she said, even though leatherback nest numbers were up slightly on both the Treasure Coast and statewide.

Maybe that's a sign the downward trend has bottomed out, Desjardin said, "but I don't know if a slight climb in a single year is that significant. We'll have to wait and see."…

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