Another Nest Record For Georgia's Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Loggerhead sea turtles nesting in Georgia have hit a new high for the fourth straight year.

Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Mark Dodd of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that more than 2,141 nests – last year’s record total – have been documented on barrier island beaches.

The count had reached 2,242 by this morning, according to www.seaturtle.org. While nesting season is nearly over, the total will not be final until fall, as scientists use genetics to identify 11 “unknown” nests.

This summer marks only the second time since comprehensive surveys began in 1989 that the federally threatened reptiles have laid more than 2,000 nests in Georgia. Nest totals have also climbed steadily since 2009, the longest such span in 25 years and an encouraging change from the usual up and down fluctuations in loggerhead nesting.

DNR analysis last year showed that the increasing trend is statistically significant.

“We feel like we’re seeing the continued recovery of loggerheads,” said Mr. Dodd, a senior Nongame Conservation Section biologist with the DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division.

The health of this iconic species effects coastal environments and economies, an impact heightened in a state where more than 30 percent of residents 16 and older take part in wildlife-watching activities.

Mr. Dodd credits the recovery to a wide range of conservation measures, from Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative members using wire screen to shield nests from predators to commercial fishery regulations reducing sea turtle deaths off Georgia’s coast and far into the Atlantic Ocean. The Sea Turtle Cooperative is a network of volunteers, researchers and agency employees who patrol barrier island beaches daily during the sea turtle nesting season, protecting and managing nests.

Mr. Dodd cautioned that the current nesting run still falls shy of federal recovery benchmarks: a 2 percent annual increase for 50 years resulting in a statewide total of 2,800 nests a year.

But he’s excited about the apparent rebound, particularly after a slow start to the nesting season had some turtle watchers thinking 2013 might be a down year for loggerheads.

And while nesting comes to a close, hatching is in full swing. About 23 percent of sea turtle hatchlings on Georgia beaches have dug out of their sand nests and headed toward the surf.

The hatching success rate – hovering at about 60 percent – has been boosted by the lack of tropical storms swamping Georgia so far this summer.

Mr. Dodd said two major factors affect sea turtle hatching success rates: predation, mainly by feral hogs and raccoons, and tropical storms, including the storm-spawned tidal surges that inundate nests. 


Waterfowl WMA Application Deadline Approaching

Applications will be accepted until midnight (CDT) on Wednesday, Sept. 28 for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s 2016 Wildlife Management Area waterfowl hunts. A computerized drawing system will be held to select successful applicants based on the priority drawing system. Hunters may apply at any TWRA license agent, at any TWRA regional office, or online at www.tnwildlife.org ... (click for more)

TWRA Confirms Sighting Of Cougar In Wayne County

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has confirmed the sighting of a cougar in Wayne County on property located in an area between Linden and the county seat of Waynesboro. A trail camera captured the cat’s image on Sept. 4 and the agency, as it does when it receives reports accompanied by credible evidence, began investigating the report. “We often get asked what it means ... (click for more)

DA Pinkston Files Petition To Declare 2 Gangs A Public Nuisance

District Attorney General Neal Pinkston filed a petition on Monday asking that two Chattanooga gangs, the Gangster Disciples and the Grape Street Crips, and their members be declared public nuisances. General Pinkston is also "asking that injunctive relief be given to the law-abiding residents of East Lake by establishing a Safety Zone that covers most of their neighborhood." ... (click for more)

2 Boaters Die In Suspected Carbon Monoxide Poisoning On Chickamauga Lake

Two boaters and their pet were pronounced dead at the scene of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning on Chickamauga Lake.  Kristy D. James and Mike L. Richardson of Chattanooga were reported missing to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office earlier in the day by a concerned family member. The boaters had not been heard from since Saturday. Tennessee Wildlife Resources ... (click for more)

Of Course Gangs Are A Public Nuisance

Now, I don't know it all.  Beginning with my parents, folks of all sorts have been actively pointing out my ignorance for more than seven decades now.  So I'm well aware that I don't know it all.  In recent months I've begun to develop an appreciation for the local work of Mr. Neal Pinkston; I've been impressed with several things he's been doing in his official ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Pitch Called ‘The Defector’

When Jose Fernandez was killed early Sunday morning in a boating accident, he was 24 years old yet had already lived a life much larger than almost all old men. He had spent part of a year in an unimaginably cruel Cuban prison, this when he only 14 years old and sandwiched in an inhumane cell among grown criminals. There were murders daily – in his very cell -- and nobody cared. ... (click for more)