irma: a changed shoreline and lost turtle nests

Sustainability

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

irma: a changed shoreline and lost turtle nests:

hope remains for the six nests on miami beach

The impact of Irma on Miami Beach’s shoreline was significant and that means the storm also had an impact on the endangered sea turtle nests on the beach.
 
Teal Kawana, project manager, for the Miami-Dade County Sea Turtle Conservation Program, said her team was out on the beach quickly after the hurricane to determine the condition of nests. Before the storm, she said, there were 14 nests left on Miami Beach.
 
“After the storm we were able to reestablish seven nests,” she said, meaning they are once again marked off by stakes. “The rest were either determined full washouts or washed over to the point we couldn’t reestablish them.”
 
“The ocean, the tide came in so high up on the beach and it stayed there for a while,” Kawana said. “There were parts of the beach where it changed the profile of the beach completely. That caused us to lose a lot of nests” and that change in the shoreline threatens the remaining nests as they continue to experience washover, she said. Already, one of the seven reestablished nests has been lost.
 
The survey of County nests using GPS following the storm was done first on Miami Beach as the City wanted to get out to clean up the debris, something they couldn’t do until the nests were accounted for and marked off.
 
Kawana’s not certain what will happen to the remaining nests but said, “We’re hopeful.” In Golden Beach, which was the least affected area in the County, she said four nests have hatched since the storm.
 
The good news, she said, “This is also why sea turtles lay multiple nests per season with the hope some of their babies will make it.” Females can lay 2-7 nests per season, which runs from April through October in Miami Beach. “A female might start laying in April-May and her last nest would have been laid in August. That may have gotten washed out but hopefully her first two made it.”
 
Because the shoreline has changed, debris is washing into the nests on a daily basis but she reminds beachgoers not to touch the nests. Her team is working to keep them clear so the babies can make it to the water if they hatch.
 
If you notice any issues with the nests, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hotline 1-888-404-3922.

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