High turtle nesting numbers in Florida for 2016 despite storms

Posted at 6:34 PM, Nov 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-01 18:34:33-04

Storm surge from tropical storms flooded many sea turtle nests in Collier County, leaving many people wondering about the number of hatchlings that would survive. But according to Simona Ceriani, a research scientist with Florida Fish & Wildlife, the loss of nests was far from devastating.

"There was a loss, but not everything was lost," Ceriani said. "The nesting has been going really well."

Of more than 1,900 sea turtle nests in Collier County this year, 58% hatched. Over 13,000 hatchlings are estimated to have made it to the Gulf of Mexico from Naples beaches alone.

Ceriani said that the turtles have a strategy for dealing with unknown factors like damaging weather: each nesting female creates several nests during the nesting season.

"Essentially, she's hedging her bets to make sure that even if there is a storm at some point in the nesting season, there is still a high probability that some of the nest have hatched," she said.

Ceriani said even Hurricane Matthew had limited impact on turtle nests, because the storm came late in the season, after many nests had already hatched.