High numbers of sea turtle hatchlings this year

2016 was a good year to be a baby sea turtle in Pinellas County.

Marine biologists say around 13,200 hatchlings crawled up through the sand and into the gulf.

Biologists with Clearwater Marine Aquarium say that’s a high number considering Tampa Bay has experienced two hurricanes and a severe cold spell last winter.

Work to protect the species began back in the 1970s. 

Lindsey Flynn, a sea turtle nesting biologist, says that’s what’s credited with the record number, as female turtles from that era are just now coming of age to reproduce. 

“It’s possible to see the benefits down the road,” Flynn said. “It’s possible to save a species if you work diligently.”

Female turtles nest every four years, so Flynn says it’s unclear if 2017 will be as successful.