The population of green sea turtles in the U.S. is increasing for the first time since the small sea creatures were labeled endangered. The new increase in the number of green sea turtles is a credit to wildlife conservatives who have fought a long battle to have the majestic green creatures protected.
Green sea turtles were one of several creatures marked as approaching extinction. So bad was their plight that authorities devised regulations to protect the dying species. In the 1600s, an earlier population in Bermuda had already faded to extinction even though regulations had been put in place to protect them.
This time, however, tough laws are saving the creatures.
In a distinct habitat just below Cape Canaveral, the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, green sea turtles are recording higher numbers than ever before. In a survey conducted last Thursday researchers and students from the University of Central Florida Marine Turtle Research Group reported counting 12,084 turtle nests in the 13 miles of the habitat. According to Dr. Kate Mansfield, the group’s leader, that was the first time the number of nests ever hit above 12,000.
Mansfield reported that the number was about 25 per cent of the population of green sea turtle nests in the U.S. Even better news was that the nests would result in over 700,000 hatchings. She added, “It’s a pretty phenomenal sea turtle nesting spot.”
The university research group has been monitoring the area for 35 years, way before the habitat was established in 1991. Mansfield attributed the rising figures of the turtle species to legislation including the Endangered Species Act, and regulations banning their fishing.
Mansfield emphasized that even though the news on higher nests was good, more was needed to protect the little creatures emerging. According to Mansfield, the turtles take up to 25 years to reach maturity. That means the generation making the nests today were hatched probably at the time the conservation refuge was launched.
The stretch monitored by the university team also has more than 12,000 nests made by loggerhead turtles. At the peak of the nesting period, up to 400 to 500 nests are dug every night.
News of the increasing green turtle population comes at a peculiar time when many of the world’s species, including the South African penguins and East African vultures, are facing certain extinction. Through mirroring the steps taken to safeguard the green sea turtles, other endangered species can be saved.