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Loggerhead turtles lay record number of nests – Caymans

(CNS): 2021 has turned out to be a record-breaking year for the number of loggerhead turtle nests across all three Cayman Islands. When turtle nest monitoring began in 1998, no loggerhead nests were counted on any of the islands and scientists believed the numbers were too low to ever recover.

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But 23 years on, 350 nests were recorded, 93 of them on Cayman Brac, where the turtles had a phenomenal season, outstripping the previous record on that island of 55 nests, the Department of Environment said. DoE experts said the number they are seeing in recent years is promising and reflects the results of long-term conservation and better protection of sea turtles in general.

The 2021 season produced a total of 531 sea turtle nests across the Cayman Islands and more than 40,000 hatchlings made it to the sea. But only one in a thousand makes it to maturity and all sea turtle species are considered critically endangered. An estimated 118 female turtles nested last year, with each mother laying between four and five nests.

Although the loggerheads had a good showing this past season, the number of green turtle nests was much lower than 2020 — just 180 across all three islands in 2021 compared to 345 nests for that species the season before. Meanwhile, there was just one hawksbill nest, which was found on Little Cayman.

The decline in green turtle nest numbers compared to 2020 was not unexpected since both 2019 and 2020 were really high nesting seasons for that species.

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Jane Hardwick from the DoE’s turtle team told CNS that turtle mothers do not come back every season but nest every two to three years. She also noted that the storms last year had a negative impact on the nests and many were lost, despite efforts to relocate many of them higher up the beaches.

The much higher number of nests in 2020 was also greatly helped by the COVID lockdowns because there was much less human disturbance to the mating and nesting turtles, as well as to the nests themselves, she explained.

Loggerhead turtles lay record number of nests – Cayman Islands Headline News  Cayman News Service

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