Irene Destroys Sea Turtle Nests Up And Down Florida's Coast

While Hurricane Irene didn't do nearly as much damage, though still very extensive, as Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans some six years ago, it did do significant damage to people, property and animals. A report in Florida Today says the hurricane and subsequent beach erosion disrupted resident sea turtle nests on the beaches of Brevard County and other counties on Florida's coast.

The hurricane damaged or destroyed a whole host of sea turtle nests and killed unhatched eggs as well as newly hatched loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles, the report said. The Sea Turtle Preservation Society was inundated with more than 100 baby sea turtles brought in by beachgoers, turtles that the society said would be better left on their own as capturing them causes the turtles to expend precious energy required to propel them out to the seaweed line where their food can be found.

Hundreds of sea turtle eggs and hatchlings were killed by the hurricane and resulting storm surge not only in Brevard County, but Ponte Verde and other locales along the Florida coast to South Carolina to Georgia. On Normandy Beach in Florida's St. Lucie County, prior to the storm, there were 1,317 documented loggerhead sea turtle nests, 161 green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtle nests, and 29 leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtle nests. After the storm, 420 loggerhead, three green sea turtle, and eight leatherback sea turtle nests destroyed, Erik Martin, scientific director at Ecological Associates, environmental consultants in Jensen Beach told the TCPalm.

The society took in what the beachgoers brought to them and has released those that can swim safely and will nurse the sick ones until they are strong enough to swim, which is usually a few days.

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