[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Record number of sea turtles nesting on Collier beaches


Record number of sea turtles nesting on Collier beaches

Jun 20, 2011 6:29 PM EDT


You'll have to look a little harder for a place to park your blanket on Collier County beaches this summer. Sea turtles are making themselves at home in the sand, in record numbers.

For the second year in a row, the number of marked-off turtle nests is increasing on Collier beaches.

Though the taped-off areas are often camouflaged amongst countless umbrellas and beach blankets, it's hard to ignore their presence.

"They're a species that needs protected. Sometimes people don't realize that," said Naples resident Lori Caputo.

"It's kind of funny kind of interesting that it's so close to the different beach activities here," said Randy Sarton, a naturalist with the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort.

In the middle of Ritz-Carlton beach business, in clusters along busy Vanderbilt Beach and even north up to Bonita Beach - bight yellow caution tape marks threatened sea turtle nests.

Caputo said she has noticed an increase to last year.

"We always look to see if there are nests and this year we've seen, as we're walking, more nests than we have in the last couple of years," she said.

In fact, their numbers are up by about 40-percent.

"As of today, we have 411 nests on the beach. Last year at this time, we had 299," said Collier environmental specialist Maura Kraus.

Kraus tracks and tapes off sea turtle nests all over Collier. She says after a 10-year decline in numbers, more taped-off areas is an encouraging sign.

"We could be seeing some of our efforts paying off," she said.

"The turtles have always been part of the beach here and to know they were dwindling in numbers was upsetting and to see that they're coming back is wonderful," said Caputo.

Collier County is still asking people on the beach to keep their lights off so that the turtle do not get confused and head toward the ocean when they hatch.

Officials also ask that beachgoers fill in holes and tear down sandcastles so that the turtles do not get caught after hatching.

By Karla Ray

NBC News

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