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Sunday August 20th, 2017 8:54PM

Along Georgia's coast, sea turtle nesting is above average

By The Associated Press

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — The number of sea turtle nests along the Georgia coast this year could be double the historical average.

As of Tuesday, there were 2,148 sea turtle nests, filled with 104,601 eggs, The Brunswick News reported .

Nesting began a continual drop-off following the first week of July, when Mark Dodd — coordinator of the state Department of Natural Resources sea turtle program — said totals this year were running at about 75 percent of last year's numbers.

If that holds though the end of nesting season in October, Georgia should end up with more than 2,400 nests total, which is around double the historical average.

Currently, however, the attention is not so much on new nests but on newly hatched turtles emerging from those nests and making their way to the ocean.

The first emergence of the season came July 4 from a Kemp's Ridley nest on Sea Island.

Typically, sea turtle eggs take about two months to hatch, depending on any number of conditions.

The most destructive predator of sea turtle eggs continues to be feral hogs, though raccoons, armadillos, ghost crabs and coyotes each make their marks.

Elsewhere along Georgia's coast:

— Cumberland Island showed 515 nests as of late Tuesday morning, comprising 17,471 eggs, of which about 4 percent were lost thus far, the Brunswick newspaper reported. In all, there are 504 loggerhead nests, seven green turtle nests, two unknown, and one each for leatherback and Kemp's Ridley turtles. With a statewide emergence success — hatching and leaving the nest chamber — at about 52 percent, most local sites show better numbers, including Cumberland at 63 percent.

— Jekyll Island had 130 nests on it as of Tuesday afternoon, with a total of 6,832 eggs, of which four percent were lost. Loggerheads laid all the nests, except one unknown nest, and those nests are averaging about 57 percent emergence success.

— Little St. Simons Island came in with 108 loggerhead nests shortly Tuesday, including 5,428 eggs with 5 percent lost, and those nests showed an emergence success of about 65 percent.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
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