Sea turtle nesting season underway along Georgia coast

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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – Sea turtle nesting season is underway along the coast. Volunteers hope 2019’s record-breaking season will repeat itself in 2020.

Peak nesting season starts at the end of May, but volunteers with the Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project are already scanning the beaches for signs of a nest.

“I’m out for the summer. I teach school and it just happened that I could get involved with this,” said Project Coordinator Tammy Smith. “That was 20 years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says last year there were 23 nests on Tybee, which Smith says is an unusually high number. DNR reports there were nearly 4,000 nests up and down the Georgia Coast.

“It’s great to see the population reviving and making a comeback,” said Smith.

So far, GA DNR reports that there are 54 nests in the state. The first nest appeared on Cumberland Island. There are none yet on Tybee Island. Smith says one could appear any day.

Once a female lays a nest, volunteers will safeguard it with stakes and caution tape. Oftentimes, they will move the nest closer to the dunes to protect it from the water during high tide. If you spot a nest, stay away.

When you are on the beach, make sure to clean up your trash, fill up holes and demolish obstacles like sandcastles. Sea turtles need a clear path to the ocean.

It is also important to avoid dousing the beaches with light during the nesting season. Sea turtles will get confused and head towards the light, instead of towards the ocean.

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