Biologists and environmentalists report this week that the number of sea turtle nests is up significantly. That’s certainly good news to them, and it’s even better news to the species, whose numbers have been dwindling. Several are even on the national endangered species list.
Those in the field report the sea turtle nest count this year at 2,218, and that’s just the beaches of Georgia’s 100 miles of coastline from the beginning of the nesting season in March to the end of it this month. Mark Dodd, coordinator of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Sea Turtle Program, says the number represents an encouraging increase over the past decade, when the average count hovered around 1,000.
Those close to the numbers say there are several reasons for the increases, one of which is a more enlightened public.
That comes as no surprise. Public awareness is always a key in any campaign to reverse negative trends, including declining populations of sea turtles.
Awareness of the plight of these ocean reptiles in this state has been at an all-time high since the opening of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island. Volunteers and employees at the center have given their all in educating residents and visitors to this coastal community of the presence of turtles and their nests and the importance of doing everything in everyone’s power to protect both.
The same knowledge has been directed at anglers and recreational boaters. They are reminded time and again to keep their eyes open for turtles. It’s an awareness that has led to fewer boat-turtle collisions off our shores.
The lesson here is simple: knowledge is power. It can even save a species from extinction when enough people care.