The GTM Research Reserve Marine Turtle Program has boasted
nesting counts in the 2010 and 2011seasons that were unusually high. From 1989 to 2009 the average number of nests was around 72. This year there were 187 documented marine turtle nests, the second highest nesting season on record for the GTM Research Reserve, after the previous 2010 season when there were 261 nests.
Of the total nests documented this season, 175 were loggerhead (Caretta caretta), five were Atlantic green (Chelonia mydas), and seven were leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) turtles.
In addition to simply monitoring the nests, Scott Eastman, Reserve Biologist is studying such variables as temporal and spatial patterns in nesting, strandings, and in-water use of habitats which he tracks via satellite.
Volunteers working under the GTM Research Reserve permit, monitor nests and record data throughout the season, working in pairs and arriving on duty to patrol the beaches by 5:00 a.m. daily. The volunteers are credited for their dedication to the program. It is crucial to the goal of gaining a better understanding of marine turtle populations.
Many of the same volunteers return to duty year after year, doing their part to help these great turtles continue to populate the world’s oceans. As volunteer George DeMarino recently told a Jacksonville News Tribune reporter, “Sea turtles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, and now they need our help to survive.”
In addition to its help with volunteers, the marine turtle program depends heavily on donations from individuals who support the work of the reserve. Visit our GTM Research Reserve Volunteer page for more information on how you can help support this wonderful program!