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Sea turtle nesting season begins even as hurricane recovery continues along Volusia beaches

A leatherback sea turtle hatchling.
Via Flickr
A leatherback sea turtle hatchling.

Sea turtle nesting season is starting along Volusia County's beaches even as recovery continues on beachfront properties after hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

Protected species manager Jennifer Winters says it won't be easy but the county will work with other agencies and all the contractors to be "as environmentally responsible as possible."

"We're going to conduct our morning nesting surveys prior to any work starting," she said. "But we are going to work together to make sure that people can fix their property and do that safely while protecting sea turtles at the same time."

The nesting season started Monday and will run through October, and some sea turtles have gotten started early.

Volusia officials say the first nest was laid by a leatherback on March 29, setting a local record for the earliest. And there are at least two nests of Kemp's ridleys -- the smallest and most endangered sea turtle.

Last year the county had a record 1,427 nests. The numbers have been going up, Winters said. "Everybody helps with that success by doing those little things and making sure that if you do see any sea turtle nesting activity to just keep your distance, let the turtles do their natural behavior without any kind of human interference."

People are urged to leave the beaches clean, flat and dark -- so that onshore lights don't lead the hatchlings astray when they emerge and should crawl toward the ocean.

Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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