It is always sad to see an animal species on the brink of extinction. The world loses a little bit of its luster when we lose an entire species. That’s why the recent nesting numbers for sea turtles this year is such an encouraging sign.
Through noon Friday, 1,857 sea turtle nests with more than 70,700 estimated eggs have been laid on the Georgia coast. That many nests at this point of the season is astonishing, and has hopefully already grown by the time you read this today.
According to seaturtle.org, Jekyll Island leads all sites in all states with 314 nesting season events as of Friday. In second is the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Reserarch Reserve, just north of St. Augustine, with 135 events.
The numbers are historic when you begin to break it down. The month of May saw 1,029 nests, a number that obliterated both the average nest total for May (339) and the previous record high for May (596).
State Department of Natural Resources biologist Mark Dodd said that while, “It’s important to remember that the May nesting numbers are not always indicative of the final nest total,” the numbers in May are a good sign that the hard work put into sea turtle conservation is paying off.
Part of that effort has been educating the public on what we can do to help out our sea turtle friends. Organizations like the St. Simons Island Sea Turtle Project help get out the word through educational campaigns. Their campaign this year has included signage at beach access points, door-to-door canvassing and informational table tents displayed by local businesses.
We encourage everyone to follow some simple rules to give the turtles the best chance they can to survive. If you live by the beach, be sure to turn out lights on the beach and close any shades of beach-facing windows. Other steps like filling in sand castles, keeping dogs on leashes and discarding chairs, tents and trash used on the beach are all steps that require very little work, but will help stack the odds in the turtle’s favor.
The situation for the world’s seven sea turtle species is not a pretty one. Six of the species are considered to be at least vulnerable to facing a high risk of extinction in the wild with some critically endangered, meaning the species is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
These numbers are a good sign not only for this year’s nesting season, but hopefully for the viability of the species.
We hope this season finishes as strongly as it started in May. If we can keep it up, maybe one day in the near future the species will no longer be at risk for extinction.
An editorial from The Brunswick (Georgia) News.