Thursday marks the beginning of the loggerhead, leatherback and green turtle’s six month nesting season and wildlife officials are warning people to steer clear of potential nests to prevent scaring the parents back into the ocean before laying their eggs.
Gainesville’s Sea Turtle Conservancy is the largest sea turtle nonprofit in Florida. Its Policy Coordinator, Gary Appelson confirms the endangered, seafaring reptiles’ population is rebounding – mostly a result of their status under the Endangered Species Act.
“We’re now starting to see a recovery of some of those populations in Florida. Turtles are doing relatively well now in Florida,” Appelson says.
Still, he admits with increasing coastal development and a shrinking habitat, sea turtles are far from safe.
“We still have a ways to go in recovery to where the populations are steady. So, I don’t see that happening in the near future,” Appelson explains.
Even without considering human threats to their population, sea turtles are still unlikely to reach maturity – in a best case scenario, only about 1 in 1,000 actually reaches adulthood. Any person caught harassing sea turtles or their nests can face criminal penalties up to $1,000 in fines and a year in jail.
Sea turtle nesting season runs through the end of October.