ST. PETERSUBRG, Fla. - For the first time in nearly a decade, green sea turtle nests were found at some Pinellas County beaches.
The 2020 sea turtle nesting season ended on October 31. Florida's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute is still compiling the data, but already there have been some surprising results.
“To our knowledge this year we had three green sea turtle nests in Pinellas County,” said Simona Ceriani, the FWRI Sea Turtle Nesting Coordinator.
She says one of the green sea turtle nests was spotted by monitors with Sea Turtle Trackers in St. Pete Beach. The other two nests were documented by turtle watchers from Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
“We here at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium monitor about 21-miles from Dunedin Pass to Blind Pass and we are getting out onto the beach very early in the morning and we are looking for signs that sea turtles have come ashore overnight and nested,” explained Sea Turtle Conservation Program Supervisor, Lindsey Flynn.
Green sea turtles are one of the three main nesters in the Sunshine State, but primarily lay their eggs on the east coast.
“It’s quite rare for them to be nesting here on the west coast, and particularly here in Pinellas County,” Fynn said.
Last year, about 700 green sea turtle nests were found in Charlotte and Sarasota Counties. As for Pinellas, Ceriani tells us only about five nests total have been documented with the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute since 1992.
“I think it’s a reflection of in general the increasing nest count of green turtles in Florida,” said Ceriani. “It’s a reflection of all the protection that has been put in place.”
Green turtles lay multiple clutches of eggs a season. To find out more about the three nests in Pinellas County, genetic samples have been sent to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.