Beach driving restrictions lifted

St. Johns County officials have announced to local Historic City News reporters that sea turtle nesting season has officially ended.

Although October 31st marked the traditional end of the season, St. Johns County extended the season until the last four turtle nests hatched, in compliance with the County’s Habitat Conservation Plan.

The 2010 season was record-breaking for St. Johns County, with a total of 902 turtle nests on the 41 miles of beaches. This is the most since the County began keeping records in 1988. By comparison, last year the total was 270 nests, and the average prior to this year was 255. Beaches throughout Florida saw an increase in turtle nests, but officials are unsure what caused the increase. Data from more than one year will be needed to make any conclusions.

The 902 nests resulted in approximately 60,000 hatchlings emerging from St. Johns County beaches. However, it is important to note that only one in a thousand survives, so officials would anticipate approximately 60 of these hatchlings returning to St. Johns County to nest in about 25 years.

The end of sea turtle nesting season signals that beach driving restrictions have been lifted for St. Johns County beaches. A handful of nests remain, but they are not located on the driving beaches.

Beach officials would like to thank the more than 400 washback and sea turtle patrol volunteers who helped make this a successful season. Officials also thank the public for their understanding and compliance throughout the sea turtle nesting season.

Photo credits: © 2010 Historic City News contributed photograph by Dave Macri

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