VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – As Hurricane Dorian passed Florida's coast, Volusia County’s dunes really took a hit, which is where many sea turtles like to nest.
- Sea turtle nests lost to Hurricane Dorian
- Officials about 260 nests were destroyed
- The storm caused sand dunes to erode
“We had the tides come up much higher than normal and it started to erode away at some of the sand dunes and vegetation,” said Jennifer Winters, manager of Volusia County's Sea Turtle Habitat Conservation Program.
All of the erosion, especially in areas like Ponce Inlet and Daytona Beach, proved devastating for sea turtle nests.
“We lost about 260 nests," Winters said. "Pre-storm we had almost 400 marked on the beach, so post-storm we had about 140.”
According to Winters, there are two big reasons these nests could not survive Dorian.
“The eggs need to have a dry place in the sand so that they can have air exchange to develop and as the tides come up higher and start to erode the sand away, some of those eggs also got pulled out or in other cases the buried eggs got over-washed with water for too long and essentially the eggs drowned," said Winters.
While Winters said she is disappointed so many nests were lost during a record breaking year, she said it could have been worse.
“There’s an expected percentage of loss, it’s pretty typical that we lose nests in this type of event so we are really fortunate, we dodged a bullet because we could have lost everything and luckily we didn’t and the turtles are still nesting, we are still getting new nests laid on our beaches," Winters said.
Despite the loss, this is still considered a successful year for sea turtle nests in Volusia County. Preliminary numbers show almost 45,000 eggs have hatched this season.
To help the sea turtles survive, Winters said it is important to keep plastic away from the beach, as turtles often mistake it for food once it gets to the ocean. She also stressed the importance of dimming lights while around the beach at night to allow the turtles to continue to nest.