From: Alicia Graef, Care2, More from this Affiliate
Published September 17, 2015 09:26 AM

Sea Turtles are making a Comeback!

Conservationists are celebrating news that endangered sea turtles are nesting in record numbers in the southeast from North Carolina to Florida, offering a promising sign that efforts to help protect them are paying off.

Last week, researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) studying green sea turtles at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge declared that for the second time in the past three years they’re setting records after they counted 12,026 nests.

“This is really a comeback story,” said Kate Mansfield, a UCF assistant professor of biology and lead of the Marine Turtle Research Group, which monitors the turtles during their nesting season that lasts from May 1 to October 1.

The refuge, which was established in 1991, has become a vital haven for sea turtles. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it’s the most significant area for green turtle nesting in North America, but they’re not the only ones benefiting.

The refuge is also used by leatherback turtles, who are now one of the world’s rarest sea turtles, and it is believed to be the most significant area for loggerhead sea turtle nesting in the Western Hemisphere.

“Back in the 1980s the beaches UCF monitored hosted less than 50 green turtle nests a year,” said Mansfield. “It is a really remarkable recovery and reflects a ‘perfect storm’ of conservation successes―from the establishment of the Archie Carr, to implementing the Endangered Species Act, among many other conservation initiatives. It will be very exciting to see what happens over the next 20 plus years.”

The good news from Florida was followed by more this weekend from North and South Carolina, in addition to Georgia where loggerhead sea turtles nest from May through August. Scientists and volunteers counted 2,292 nests, which sets a new record for the fifth season in six years.

“Every big year we get, the more confident we are in that conclusion that we’re in a recovery period,” Mark Dodd, a biologist who heads the sea turtle recovery program for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, told the AP. “So we feel really good about it.”

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Care2.

Sea turtle image via Shutterstock.

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