Although around 3,000 sea turtle hatchlings emerged on the Panama City Beach during the nesting season, roughly 70 percent of them didn’t crawl towards the waters.
The problem was that they were distracted by building and street lights. According to Kennard Watson, PCB Turtle Watch Director, the volunteers did a great job and saved most of them.
Unfortunately, even if 51 loggerhead nests have been recorded during this nesting season, around twenty of them were flooded or washed by storms. This is sad especially because it has been the first season since 1991 when sea turtles laid 51 nests.
Also, human-made obstacles are still a problem as lounge chairs have blocked one nest, but the sea turtle hatchlings found the path towards the ocean thanks to the volunteers who moved the nest before the little turtles hatched.
Protecting Sea Turtle Hatchlings
Panama City Beach issued several regulations to reduce the mortality rates among sea turtle hatchlings. One of these laws requires residents living around the beach to use lights which don’t make sea turtles confused. This law has been active since 2013.
The Sea Turtle Conservancy will install the lights on every property, but the owner is required to pay for the installation. According to light specialists Lauryn Wright, although the lights will be a bit darker, residents will comply with the new regulations.
The Future of the Loggerheads
Watson underlines that it is not known whether the sea turtle population will ultimately recover, but that the volunteers will double their efforts every year to protect and preserve this species.
In addition to this, scientists need more data to develop other efficient strategies to reduce the mortality rate among sea turtle hatchlings. More precisely, researchers from the PCB Turtle Watch will be able to conclude if their work paid off in the next five years.
Loggerhead turtles become full-grown adults in more than a few years, so it’s going to take a while until they come back to the beach to lay other eggs. Watson continued by saying that he and his team would be patient.
According to senior biologist Kristen Mazzarella, there are still some turtle nests which haven’t hatched yet. That is why citizens are strongly recommended to make sure they won’t accidentally harm the sea turtle hatchlings. Based on the experts’ prediction, the nests are expected to hatch this month.
Image Source: Wikipedia