What happens to sea turtle nesting during and after beach nourishment?
The Martin County Coastal Engineering Department and its contractor Ecological Associates, Inc. maintains a comprehensive sea turtle monitoring and conservation program, to ensure that beach nourishment projects are designed and constructed to maintain the local beaches as vital sea turtle nesting habitat. Daily sea turtle nesting activity is monitored annually during sea turtle nesting season (May 1st to October 31st) to detect any project induced changes. During beach nourishment projects turtle monitoring starts earlier March to assure no impacts to sea turtles that may arrive to nest earlier than May 1st.
Five species of sea turtles swim in Florida's waters; three of them - the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta)and the green turtle (Chelonia mydas)nest regularly on Martin County's beaches. These sea turtles are either designated as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Every day nests are marked and its coordinates recorded with GPS. At the end of 2013 turtle nesting season CMAR staff put together the video below, to show the activity of sea turtles before, during, and after beach nourishment on that 4 mile section of beach.
The video shows the progress of the sand placement on the beach (yellow line) and the beach access (blue squares) and park closures (red stop signs) recorded by that web application during construction. The video also shows the 2013 turtle nesting activity before, during, and after construction of the Hutchinson Island beach nourishment project (March 14 – October 14, 2013). Nests laid just before or during construction are relocated.
How long before sea turtles get back to nest on the beach after beach nourishment ?
The video starts with the first leatherback sea turtle (brown) nest before beach construction started. Nests made before and during construction have to be relocated. As time progresses the videos show the progress of the beach nourishment project (yellow line along the beach), and a few more leatherback turtles “arrive” as construction progresses.
Watch as the video progresses...