In an update from Mary Duffy, President of the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch, Nassau County residents have been commended for their support throughout the sea turtle nesting season.
Ms. Duffy expressed her gratitude during this week’s “Turtle Talk Tuesday,” an educational initiative to raise awareness about sea turtle conservation efforts on the island.
“The Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch, Inc. would like to thank Nassau County for their support throughout the season. Turtle Talk Tuesday has been a great educational tool for our residents, and we appreciate the effort,” remarked Duffy.
The organization’s sea turtle conservation work on the island is conducted under the governance of permits issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The dedicated team collects an extensive array of data, with a primary focus on two fundamental data elements: the number of sea turtle nests and the frequency of false crawls, which are instances of abandoned nesting attempts by sea turtles.
False crawls, which can occur for various reasons, are an integral part of understanding sea turtle behavior. The primary data element revolves around identifying the turtle species nesting on Amelia Island. Loggerhead turtles, the most common species, thrive on the island. Green turtle nests are on the rise, reaching a record number this season. While rare, previous years have seen leatherback nests as well.
One frequently asked question the organization addresses is the number of eggs laid and the number of hatchlings produced. Currently, four nests on Amelia Island are still incubating, with hopes of a successful outcome.
The 2023 sea turtle nesting season began with the first nest laid on May 8 and concluded with the last nest on August 23.
Preliminary data reveals:
There were a total of 245 nests on Amelia Island, with 138 in the county and 107 within the city.
Of the 245 nests, 229 were loggerhead nests, while 16 were green turtle nests, marking a record high for the latter.
Among the 138 county nests, 15 were green turtle nests, and only one of the 107 city nests was a green turtle nest.
A total of 276 false crawls were recorded on Amelia Island, with 161 in the county and 115 in the city.
Of these false crawls, 247 were associated with loggerhead turtles, and 29 were connected to green turtles.
The county reported 27 green turtle-related false crawls, while the city reported two.
Regarding egg production, a grand total of 18,906 sea turtle eggs were laid on the island. Out of this number, an astounding 18,298 eggs emerged from their nests and successfully made their way to the sea.
Mary Duffy emphasized that the data presented is just a preliminary snapshot of the extensive efforts put forth by the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch. She also shared their plans to complete reports for the FWC and take a well-deserved break before gearing up for the 2024 season, set to begin on May 1, 2024.
For those interested in joining their dedicated team as volunteers, more information can be found on their website HERE.
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