Hurricane Season this year started June 1 and ends November 30 while Sea Turtle Season began March 1 and will go until October 31. This means that every year there is a high chance a hurricane could hit the coasts and greatly alter the number of nesting females as well as the survival rate of baby sea turtles.
In a forecast by The Weather Company, NOAA, and Colorado State University, it is predicted that the 2016 hurricane season will be the worst since 2012. This prediction is greater than the 30 year historical average of 12 name storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes for the Atlantic Basin.
So how does this affect sea turtles during Sea Turtle Season?
With such strong winds and extreme levels of rainfall, sea turtle nests have a high chance of becoming flooded with water or excess sand or destroyed completely. The photo above was taken off Florida's coast after Hurricane Irene in 2011. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 75 sea turtle nests were washed away and another 135 nests were covered with 3-4 feet of extra sand.
Although there are more hurricanes predicted to form this 2016 hurricane season than most in the past, not all will hit where sea turtles frequently nest and hatch. This being said, we must still be prepared for the worst to save as many sea turtles as possible, especially with their numbers already dwindling.
While there is not much we can do to prevent flooding or destruction, there are many crew members from various Conservation Programs who are out on the beach evacuating as many nests as possible to save the unborn hatchlings. If you are on the beach after a hurricane and see scattered eggs or nests that are flooded, please call your local Sea Turtle Conservation or Rescue Program so their staff can respond as quickly as possible to save the most sea turtles they can.