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Volusia County marks record-breaking sea turtle nesting season

Thousands of hatchlings like this loggerhead are making their way to the ocean this week in Volusia County.
Thousands of hatchlings like this loggerhead are making their way to the ocean this week in Volusia County.

Turtles in Volusia County are having a record-breaking nesting season this year.

More than 1,400 nests have already been counted on Volusia County beaches, and there’s still six weeks left to go in the nesting season.

Loggerhead turtles have been the most industrious nesters so far, laying more than 80 percent of these nests, with a total of 1,251 nests.

Staff and volunteers have also counted 231 green sea turtle nests, five leatherback nests and four Kemp's ridley nests.

As thousands of hatchlings make their way to the ocean, officials are reminding homeowners to turn off or redirect bright lights that can discourage females from nesting and confuse babies.

Here are more tips from the county for protecting sea turtle moms and babies:

  • "Leave sea turtles and their nests alone.
  • Avoid walking on the fragile dune system and native plants.
  • Minimize the use of lighting at night.
  • Do not use cellphones to light your way at night.
  • If lights are needed, use only red LED flashlights, which are less visible to turtle eyes.
  • When leaving the beach, remove obstacles by flattening sandcastles, filling in holes, and taking chairs and equipment with you.
  • Dispose of trash and recyclables in proper receptacles.
  • Do not use fireworks, which are prohibited on Volusia County beaches."

If a sea turtle appears to be distressed, do not touch it. Call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission at 888-404-3922 during the day for help. At night, call, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office at 386-248-1777, ext. 3.

Learn more about Florida sea turtles here.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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