For the first time in three years, Florida's sea turtle hatchlings are seeing increased survival rates. And the increase is a result of measures put in place to keep the baby sea turtles alive.
Every morning during turtle nesting season, Bruce Drye walks up and down St. George Island, keeping a close eye on sea turtle nests.
"There’s a live hatchling,” Drye said.
Drye has been using his skills to protect baby sea turtles since the mid-1980's.
“I learned how to do all of this as a park ranger,” Drye said.
As the warm waters of the Gulf crash onshore, Drye said it’s not a life at the beach for these hatchlings.
“The sky will be lighter than the water, and that’s what has drawn hatchlings to the safety of the water for billions of years. If we have these homes lit up, they’ll go the wrong way,” Drye said.
Other predators, such as the ghost crab, pose a threat to the baby sea turtles.
Nests have been popping up all over the beaches. In 2010, they were moved to the east coast of Florida due to the BP oil spill along the Gulf Coast. Because of those efforts, this could be a record year."
Drye said, "Hatchling success rates over there are nearly as good as if we had left these on the beach by themselves, left them alone.”
Statewide, 861 nests, each containing about a hundred eggs, have been counted so far this year.
Jennifer Taylor was on the beach in 2010. She said it's amazing to see such an abundance of sea turtle nests now after the oil spill.
“We were here three years ago, I guess, and we saw maybe one or two nests," Taylor said. "So seeing these along the beach is pretty amazing.”
With another successful nesting season underway, thousands of hatchlings are expected to soon populate the waters off Florida's coast.
As of right now, the number of nests is the second highest on record.