Will sea turtle nests be swept away by Hurricane Matthew?

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While north county beaches could be hit by lots of erosion, the effects on sea turtle nests should be minimal, say the experts at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

This year has been a great year for nesting.

The number is 14,830 for nests that have already hatched. That means that 92 percent of all the nests LMC monitors hatched successfully.

Because LMC has had such a record-breaking year already, the damage done to any remaining sea turtle nests will be minimal.

There are about 1,250 nests still on the 10-mile stretch of beach that LMC monitors. Most of the nests are green sea turtle nests, because greens nest later in the season.

For the remaining nests, winds do not have an effect on sea turtle nests because the eggs are buried under the sand. Storm surge is what can impact nests; the force of water can cause a large amount of sand to erode. Because of this, eggs could become exposed and most likely will not survive.

LMC officials are monitoring those nests and plan to document any impacts they might see due to the storm. Because of FWC regulations, officials cannot move nests that are threatened by storms because sea turtle eggs are prone to movement-induced mortality.

Sea turtles have adapted to handle natural weather disasters for millions of years. Each nesting female deposits several nests during nesting season to help ensure that even if a storm hits during nesting season, there’s a high likelihood that some of her nests will hatch successfully.

Even in 2004, when hurricanes Charlie, Frances and Jeanne hit Florida, 42 percent of statewide loggerhead nests hatched, and 40 percent of hatchlings successfully hatched from the nests – well within a normal range of success.