MAYPORT, Fla. – It has been a historic sea turtle season in Mayport. There have never been more hatchlings.
The numbers were record-setting. There were 54 sea turtle nests at Naval Station Mayport, with more than 3,000 sea turtle hatchlings.
Heather Hahn, natural and cultural resources program manager with Naval Station Mayport, says the numbers are significant.
“It seems like every year, our nest counts are improving, which is really great for Naval Station Mayport,” Hahn told News4JAX on Thursday.
The 54 nests, all loggerhead sea turtles, are the most in Mayport since 2019 when there were 38 nests. It did lose one nest as dunes were washed away because of Hurricane Ian.
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Hahn says this season’s historic total more than doubles the total two years ago and triples last season’s. This is an encouraging trend.
“About two decades ago, our average was around 10 a season. About a decade ago, we were at 15,” Hahn said. “If we keep trending how our nest counts are now, we will probably double that for the coming years.”
Hahn, who is responsible for reviewing wildlife issues and the sea turtle permitting program, says the loggerhead sea turtles like to nest on beaches that are dark, quiet and smooth — an environment she says Mayport tries to foster.
“In 2017, we did a major light retrofit to turn all of our lights into wildlife, sea turtle-friendly lights,” she said.
Other factors for the boost in successful nestings may include changes in water temperatures and sea turtles expanding their territories.
Hahn says it has not only been a great season for Mayport — but great for the entire state.
“That means we are not getting other people’s sea turtles,” she said. “Everybody is getting more sea turtles.”
And now the research continues to see if this is a trend to get used in the future.