Posted by Administrator on 7/10/2013
of the great things about living in a new place is the ongoing process of
discovering all that’s wonderful and compelling about it. For example, a recent
trip to the Golden Isles off Georgia’s coast provided a world of information on
Georgia’s enchanting Sea Turtles.
species of sea turtles are found in Georgia's marine waters, with loggerheads
being most abundant. The other species are Leatherback, Green, Kemp’s Ridley
and Hawksbill. All five species are protected under the federal Endangered
Species Act and hold state and/or federal status as threatened or endangered.
to their temperate climate and protected dunes suitable for nesting activities,
Georgia's barrier island beaches host an average of 1,000 sea turtle nests per
year. In winter, most sea turtle species dwell in warm tropical waters. During
the months of late spring, summer, and early autumn, they either inhabit or
traverse Georgia's waters. Since official records were initiated in 1964, all
of Georgia's coastal counties have had reports of nests or stranded turtles.
turtles are migratory marine reptiles whose ancestors have inhabited earth's
oceans for about 205 million years. Except for their incubation period, sea
turtles spend their entire lives swimming and floating at sea. Females come
ashore only to nest. Due to this "invisibility," many aspects of sea
turtle life cycles remain unknown.
sea turtle conservation programs are a collaborative effort among private,
state, federal, and international projects. The main threats to sea turtles in
Georgia are the destruction of their nests and eggs and offshore mortalities
associated with commercial longline fishing or shrimping activities. Because they live near the ocean's surface, sea
turtles in one region are affected by threats occurring elsewhere, such as
poaching, loss of habitat due to development, and marine pollution. All species
of sea turtles face extinction, mostly due to human causes.
and nesting studies in Georgia began at Little Cumberland and Blackbeard islands in 1964 and 1965 respectively. By 1989 all Georgia barrier islands except three had monitoring and protection. The severity of
threats against the dramatically dwindling sea turtle populations has
galvanized conservation in Georgia. In an effort to standardize data collection
and conservation procedures, barrier-island managers along the Georgia coast
enacted the Georgia Loggerhead Recovery and Habitat Protection Plan in 1994. In
2007 the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which provides veterinary care to and
public education programs about sea turtles, opened on Jekyll Island.
can we do as individuals? Educate others about these fascinating creatures and
join in conservation efforts. If you find a turtle carcass, witness nesting
behavior, or observe someone injuring or killing these protected animals,
contact the local Department of Natural Resources office. These ancient
animals, whose life cycles and ecological functions are still so little known,
are fascinating manifestations of our earth’s rich biodiversity.
Source: Georgia Sea Turtle Center