Nesting season begins for loggerhead turtles along Georgia coast

ATLANTA — People along the Georgia coast could soon start to see sea turtles hatching.

Researchers found their first loggerhead turtle nest in Little Cumberland Island on Saturday. They said the hatching marks the beginning of the nesting season.

From about May through September, the turtles crawl ashore at night, dig a hole in the face of dunes along barrier island beaches, and deposit and cover their eggs.

The state saw a record number of 3,950 nests in 2019. Last year, the state found more than 2,700 nests along the coast.

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“The cooperative has done a tremendous amount of work,” Georgia Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Mark Dodd said. “We started out averaging about 800 nests a year, and we’re now up to about 3,500.”

“The loggerhead population has been increasing at approximately 4 percent annually since the early 1990s. However, a new population model developed by UGA and the U.S. Geological Survey using nesting and genetics data indicates the population will plateau at current levels for about the next 20 years,” the Georgia Department of Natural Resources stated in a news release.

All marine turtles in Georgia are protected by state and federal law.