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2015 Sea Turtle Nesting Season Saw Second-Largest Number of Turtle Nests in History
  
- 2016 Sea Turtle Nesting Season and Lighting Ordinances Take Effect March 1st -
  
DATE: February 22, 2016
MEDIA CONTACT:
Courtney Kiel
Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department

PHONE: 954-519-1255
EMAIL: ckiel@broward.org

MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Donzelli
NSU Office of Public Affairs

PHONE: 954-262-2159
EMAIL: jdonzelli@nova.edu

BROWARD COUNTY, FL - Every year from March through October, sea turtles make their way onto the beaches of South Florida to lay the eggs of the next generation.

In 2015, the number of nests documented by the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program, which is administered and funded by Broward County and carried out by
Nova Southeastern University (NSU) was the second-highest since 1981 when the program began.

"The numbers from 2015 were pretty impressive, but they were just a little short of the record year in 2012," said Derek Burkholder, Ph.D., a research scientist at NSU's
Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, who also runs the sea turtle program. "The efforts of those in Broward County to heed the notices during nesting season are paying off and we're seeing more and more nests and hatchlings. It's important that we keep the momentum going to ensure these animals are here for many more years to come."

2015 sea turtle nesting season stats in Broward County:

3,240 nests found in total

        *2,741 Loggerhead Turtle Nests 
                -135 less than previous year
                -Above 5-year average (2,564 nests per season)
        *463 Green Turtle Nests
                -32 less than record high season in 2013
                -Nearly double than 5-year average (268 nests per season)
        *35 Leatherback Turtle Nests (least common nesting turtle in Broward)
                -4 less than previous year
                -11 more than 5-year average (24 nests per year)

"Some unique weather events such as Tropical Storm Erika's storm surge, increased wave action and high tides impacted about 20 percent of the nests that were still active on the beach when the storm passed," Burkholder said. "Additionally, June was hotter and drier than normal, which resulted in higher sand temperatures and sand that would not hold form making it more difficult for turtles to nest."

"Another challenge in preserving a suitable nesting habitat is artificial lighting," said Courtney Kiel, Broward County's Natural Resource Specialist who administers the Sea Turtle Conservation Program. "Coastal lighting needs to be directed to where it is intended and away from the beach as this confuses sea turtles causing them to use energy looking for the ocean."
Read more about your municipality's Coastal Lighting Ordinance.

Starting March 1
st, Lighting Ordinances take effect and a team of nearly 40 researchers and students from NSU will make their way daily to the nearly 22-miles of Broward's shoreline to look for new turtle nests and check on existing ones. New hatchlings don't always make it out of the nest on their own and Broward's Sea Turtle Conservation Program team members will give them a helping hand.

Florida is home to approximately 70 percent of all the nation's sea turtle nesting. Locally, three species - Loggerhead, Leatherback and Green Turtles - start their lives from South Florida's beaches. All of these species are considered threatened or endangered, meaning they need our help and protection for their future survival. If you see any turtles in distress, please contact the sea turtle emergency line immediately at 954-328-0580.


Read the full 2015 Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program report or contact the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program at 954-519-1255.

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 Broward.org/NaturalResources or follow us on Twitter.

About Nova Southeastern University (NSU)

Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degree levels. A private, not-for-profit institution with more than 24,000 students, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, while maintaining a presence online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is 1 of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie's Community Engagement Classification, and is also the  largest private, not-for-profit institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education's criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit www.nova.edu for more information.