Sea Turtles Nests Cover St. Johns County Beaches | Environment

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Sea Turtles Nests Cover St. Johns County Beaches
Sea Turtles Nests Cover St. Johns County Beaches

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Tara Dodson inspected a set of fresh sea turtle tracks this morning on Crescent Beach.

"Isn't it cool?" Dodson said.

The tracks are made when a sea turtle comes ashore to lay her eggs.

Dodson is the habitat conservation plan coordinator for St. Johns County, and this year she has a lot of sea turtle nests to get excited about.   

"We're actually doing better this year than we were just three years ago," Dodson said.

Currently, there are 318 nests in St. Johns County. 

This time last year there were 383 nests, however last year the county saw a record number along the beaches. Dodson said the numbers this year are still great; just two years ago, there were only 250 nests all season long.

"Biologists are still trying to determine why the increase occurred. We're the only county in Florida that saw a 360 percent increase in nesting," Dodson said.

There are no definitive explanations about why sea turtles are choosing St. Johns County's 42 miles of coastline for their nests. However, there are theories.

"A lot of protective measures went into effect several years ago, about 25-30 years ago. That's when [turtles] started reaching sexual maturity," Dodson explained.

Those living along the coast can help the turtles by turning off lights at night so turtles aren't distracted, knocking down sand castles when finished at the beach to make for turtle friendly sand, and by removing tents and beach chairs overnight. Turtles can get stuck in the gear.

As for Dodson, she knows more sea turtle nests bring more sea turtles... and that's good news for a protected species. 

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