Green sea turtles nest in record numbers in Florida

MIAMI - A record number of endangered green sea turtles nested in the US state of Florida in 2015, suggesting that conservation efforts are paying off, authorities said Friday.
Approximately 28,000 nests were discovered across 26 state beaches, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said. Nearly 30 years ago, only 464 green sea turtle nests were documented in the same areas. “It’s exciting to hear that our efforts to protect Florida’s environment are helping the sea turtle population thrive,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott. The number of nests has been on the rise in recent years with just more than 10,700 in 2011 and a record-setting 25,553 in 2013.
FWC scientist Simona Ceriani said that the latest numbers suggest that 2013’s record was “not a fluke, but that green turtle populations are indeed increasing in Florida.” In light of the numbers, environmental officials have discussed lowering the green sea turtle’s status in Florida and off Mexico’s Pacific Coast from “endangered” to “threatened,” the US Fish and Wildlife Service said in March. Breeding colony populations outside of those areas are already listed as threatened, according to the agency. Green sea turtles are harmed by excessive egg collection, hunting, entanglement in fishing nests and destruction of beach nesting sites, the World Wildlife fund said. Measures in place to protect these habitats and the use of turtle-friendly fishing gear has helped numbers increase. Green sea turtles live along the coast of more than 140 countries, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).