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Sea Turtles Set Local Records in Broward County
- 2016 Nesting Season Ends in Celebration -
DATE: December 20, 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Stephanie Kedzuf, Natural Resource Specialist 
Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division

PHONE: 954-519-1255

BROWARD COUNTY, FL - October 31, 2016 officially marked the end of a record-breaking sea turtle nesting season in Broward County.  With a total of 3,567 nests laid overall, 2016 is the highest year on record since the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program (BCSTCP) began counting nests in 1981.  This year edged just ahead of the previous record in 2012 when 3,540 nests were laid.

The BCSTCP is administered and funded by Broward County and carried out by Nova Southeastern University.

Nesting by species in 2016:

Loggerheads (Caretta caretta) laid 3,400 nests
A record year for the species - 116 more nests laid than the previous record year of 2012
-Above the five-year average (2,952 nests per season)
-659 more nests than 2015

Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) laid 137 nests
-Lower than the five-year average (288 nests per season)
-326 fewer nests than 2015

Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) laid 27 nests
-Slightly below the five-year average (33 nests per season)
-8 fewer nests than 2015

3 additional nests were laid, but the species were unconfirmed

As nesting activity reveals, loggerheads are by far the most abundant of the sea turtles occupying our coastal waters, and nesting figures for 2016 are positive.  Although the local number of green turtle and leatherback nests was slightly below their respective five-year averages, state officials are optimistic about their populations overall.  Since sea turtles nest in cyclic patterns, it is common to see fluctuations from year to year.  Statewide, green turtle trends reflect a two-year high/low cycle, and so the lower numbers observed this season were expected after 2015's near-record numbers when 463 nests were laid in Broward County.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is optimistic about leatherback nesting as well; although this season saw a slight decrease, FWC's long-term trends show an exponential increase in nest numbers since monitoring began.  The BCSTCP is one of the many long-term monitoring programs that contributes to the conservation of these threatened and endangered turtles.

Scientists are not the only ones who can help protect sea turtles.  There are many things that every resident of Broward County can do to help; in particular, reducing the amount of artificial lighting reaching the beach will make our beaches more conducive to nesting females and ensure that the hatchlings crawl towards the water upon emerging from their nests.  Some ways to make our lighting "turtle-friendly" include:

  • Turn off unnecessary lights
  • Use red or amber LED bulbs
  • Close curtains or move light sources away from windows
  • Only light what is needed; reduce decorative lighting
You can find more information about Broward's Coastal Lighting Ordinance by accessing it online.  More information about sea turtles and lighting can be found on FWC's website.

Although lighting in Broward County is improving year to year, there is still work to be done.  If we wish to see more record-breaking nesting seasons in the future, now is the time to start taking the initiative to make our beaches a pristine habitat for sea turtles that return to the same beaches from which they hatched to lay their own nests, typically about 20 years later.  Preserving their habitat today means it will be there for future generations in the years to come.

About Environmental Planning and Community Resilience
Broward County's Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division protects, restores and enhances the quality, abundance and diversity of the County's natural resources through coordinated management efforts in five areas: water resource policy and planning, urban and natural lands management, beach and marine resources, energy and sustainability, and environmental monitoring. For more information call 954-519-1270, visit our website or follow us on Twitter.