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Treasure Coast Essay

Counting sea turtle nests

This year is shaping up to be a good one for sea turtle nesting on the Treasure Coast – not great, but good.  The season began March 1 and lasts until the fall.  Erik Martin, scientific director at Ecological Associates of Jensen Beach, which counts nests in portions of Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties, told me that as of mid-June his operation found more than 2300 nests made by loggerheads, the most common sea turtle on the Treasure Coast.  This is fewer than a year ago, which was unusually bounteous, but it’s more than in 2011.  Martin and other naturalists who monitor seas turtles say it’s tough to predict nesting totals from year to year.  Some females may take a break from nesting for a year or more because food is scarce or the water is not the right temperature.  At five locations on South Hutchinson Island, high sand cliffs are being reshaped into gentle slopes so that sea turtles can make their way up the beach to lay their eggs.  The best way to view sea turtles nesting is at night with a state ranger or other trained guide.  When you are on the beach after dark, don’t use a flash light.  It can disorient the turtles.  Don’t make noise.  And don’t bother the mother turtles or their hatchlings.  Remember -- sea turtles are a great asset to the Treasure Coast.  For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.