Chromodoris Willani

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Green turtles making a strong comeback in Florida

In 1979 there were only 62 nests in the state, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This year, there were 35,000.
Captured green turtles in Key West, Florida. Undated archival photo taken prior to 1923.
 |  Florida's Sea Turtles    |   12-09-2013
The campaign to protect green turtles began 35 years ago, when the species was added to the federal list of endangered species.

It's astounding that once you stop eating a species it really starts to come back. We almost killed everyone of them, but now they're coming back.

—Blair Witherington, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

It can take green turtles 30 years to mature, which is why scientists are just now seeing the results of the 1978 protective measures.

Green turtles lay as many as 200 eggs in a nest and about two months later they start hatching -- most of the nests in the continental U.S. are in Florida. Then there is a rush of tiny turtles crawling out of the sandy nests towards the ocean.

Turning down the light
One simple measure people can take to help green turtles is to turn off lights near beaches during nesting season, which runs from spring to early fall. Lights from buildings and homes confuse just-hatched turtles, prompting them to crawl towards the bright lights instead of the ocean.

Many Florida beach communities now turn off beach lights during nesting season.

Efforts to restrict beach development, to give green turtles enough space to nest, are also behind the green turtle’s success story. Seawalls built close to the beach threaten turtle nesting.

Primary source ► Florida's Sea Turtles
Further reading ►
| Image of |
Primary source ► Florida's Sea Turtles
Further reading ►