Hurricane Dorian causes minimal damage to sea turtle nests

Updated: Sep. 6, 2019 at 6:32 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - This year, we’ve seen a record-setting year for loggerhead nests in Georgia, with the number coming in at almost 4,000 on our beaches.

Now, in peak hurricane season and having just had a brush with Hurricane Dorian, WTOC checked in with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to see how hurricanes, even offshore, can affect sea turtle nests.

The DNR still had to get out to a lot of the beaches they monitor for turtle nesting activity, but based on tidal data, they think there will be minimal damage to existing nests.

​Only about 15 to 20 percent of all the nests are still in the ground right now, so rough water and storm surge aren’t going to be as impacting in terms of harming large numbers of sea turtle nests. Fortunately, the tidal surge was lower than predicted as Dorian passed by Coastal Georgia.

Nesting starts in early May for loggerhead sea turtles, with first significant hatch around the Fourth of July. That will continue on through the end of September, so fortunately, that season is slowing down as hurricane season is reaching its peak.

“One thing that’s important to recognize about sea turtles is they evolved on dynamic beaches. They’ve dealt with this for millions of years, and their reproductive strategy, in fact, takes this into account,” said Mark Dodd with the Department of Natural Resources.

Right now, most of the nests are to the south of the island on uninhabited islands like Little Tybee and Ossabaw.

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