South Florida Beaches See Record Number of Turtle Nests

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Stretches of sand in front of Waterfront Properties and Club Communities’ oceanfront homes and condominiums have been covered in crawl tracks since March.

Waterfront Properties and Club Communities has themed its business and logo around the green sea turtle.

Turtle-nesting season, which runs from March 1 to Oct. 31, has become a community-awareness campaign in Palm Beach County’s coastal cities, towns and villages.

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach, a managed preserve that offers more than two miles of natural beach and dune ecosystem, had its best turtle-nesting season on record this year.

Rangers at the pristine park, which is wedged between homes in Lost Tree Village to the north and Singer Island condos to the south, counted nearly 1,700 loggerhead nests – 400 more than the previous record, set in 1995. The number of nests from green sea turtles, another important species, sits at 227. Leatherback turtles also set a record at the park this year with 93 nests.

Because the park is adjacent to oceanfront homes in Palm Beach County, residents are asked to dim their lights at night so as not to disorient the hatchlings, which can mistake city lights for the light of the moon and head away from the ocean.

About 1.6 miles of beach are monitored by the rangers at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. They examine the tracks to determine the species, locate the sand cavity in which the mother turtle laid her eggs and cordon off the area with stakes and yellow crime-scene tape so beachgoers do not disturb the site.

At Loggerhead Marinelife Center, research-team members also are reporting higher nest counts this year. Their latest count was 7,923 loggerhead nests, 827 green nests and 246 leatherback nests on nearly 10 miles of beachline that runs from Juno Beach to Tequesta.

Turtle-nesting season begins March 1 and ends Oct. 31. During those eight months, a community-awareness campaign gets underway in Palm Beach County’s coastal cities, towns and villages. Signs are posted to remind homeowners about dimming their property lights, public turtle walks are conducted in the middle of the night by certified agencies, and fundraisers are organized to benefit nonprofit groups that support turtle research. One such fundraiser took place in August at The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, featuring a parade of sculpted, artistic sea turtles. Art Arribada raised an approximate $25,000 for Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Also, many small businesses theme their companies around the turtle motif – including Waterfront Properties and Club Communities. The 30-year-old real-estate firm’s corporate logo is a green sea turtle.

The eight-month season is something unique to South Florida and one of many things to enjoy about the area. It attracts conservationists, marine biologists and veterinarians from all over the world because of the opportunity to study sea turtles in their natural environment.

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Rob Thomson
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