Loggerhead sea turtles nests down

Reporter: Stephanie Dukes

A number of loggerhead sea turtle nests along our coast are way down.

Wildlife officials just released the new numbers showing 2007 had the lowest one-year count on record in 17 years.

Researchers at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton are really paying attention to the nesting habits of sea turtles in our area. They say when it comes to loggerhead turtle nests, there aren't nearly as many as there should be. Researchers found around 45,000 nests. That's down more than 4,600 from 2006.

Now, scientists say, there are a couple of things going on here. One big part of the problem is commercial fishing equipment called long lines. Now, the adult sea turtles are actually attracted to the bait, and they end up getting caught in those lines. That means they never really make it to the beach. Some are injured or killed and never make it to the beach to go ahead and make their nests.

Scientists have come up with ways to do the long line fishing more safely for sea turtles for loggerheads. Many American commercial fishing companies have adopted those techniques.

The goal is to get foreign companies to adopt them, as well.

Sea turtle nesting season for loggerheads started mid-April and will go through mid-August. Scientists say they're going to be keeping a very close eye in light of the decline that seems to be continuing.

Of course, those nests are clearly marked with sticks, so folks, if you see sticks on the beach, that's what they are. You need to stay away from those nests.