Open Ocean Trustees Conserve Additional Acreage on Florida’s East Coast to Benefit Sea Turtles
The Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group marked another milestone in the conservation of sea turtle nesting habitat.
In collaboration with partners at The Conservation Fund and the State of Florida, the Open Ocean Trustees completed acquisition of a 1.07-acre parcel in April 2023 and a 0.8-acre parcel in January 2023. These beachfront parcels, which were acquired from willing private property owners, will protect habitat for beach nesting sea turtles in eastern Florida.
The properties will be managed for sea turtle nesting in perpetuity as part of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.
The two 2023 acquisitions are joined by a 400-foot beachfront habitat parcel acquired by the Trustees in 2021. Along with the land already protected within the refuge and those protected by the State of Florida and two counties, more than a half mile of sea turtle nesting habitat is protected from both development and the negative effect artificial lighting has on nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.
“The project will play a vital role in protecting habitat for a variety of wildlife including critical nesting habitat for loggerhead and green sea turtles,” says former Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge Manager Jeremy Edwardson.
“The acquisition will also continue to provide the public with compatible beach recreational opportunities for current and future generations,” Edwardson added. “This is a project that took significant effort from many different individuals and organizations and is a success story that will continue to be celebrated.”
The land acquisitions are part of the Open Ocean Trustees’ Long-Term Nesting Beach Habitat Protection for Sea Turtles project. This project includes working with willing landowners to purchase parcels with high-quality sea turtle nesting habitat that are connected to protected areas. Land purchases such as these reduce habitat fragmentation and contribute to overall sea turtle restoration.
Many of the sea turtles that range throughout the Gulf of Mexico nest at the refuge, including loggerhead, green, and, leatherback sea turtles. The Refuge is home to the largest nesting population of loggerheads in the world and accounts for a quarter of all loggerhead sea turtle nests in the world. A third of all green sea turtle nests are located there and the refuge supports the largest nesting population of green sea turtles in the United States.
An estimated tens of thousands of sea turtles in all life stages were injured or killed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and response activities. More information on the Trustees’ goals for sea turtle restoration may be found in the Strategic Framework for Sea Turtle Restoration Activities.
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