There used to be so many green sea turtles on caribbean beaches during nesting season that a person could walk on their shells along the coast and never touch the sand. We know this from the logbooks of some of the first European ships to reach the New World. But the sailors quickly realised that the turtles were an easy catch, and soon thousands of turtles were butchered for meat when they came to the coast to lay their eggs. Even today, green sea turtles are known as ‘soup turtles’ in some languages.
When sea turtles were finally declared a protected species in the USA in 1973, they were on the verge of being eaten to extinction.
40 years of protection pays off
In 1991, the Archie Carr nature reserve was established on a stretch of Florida coast. Fewer than 50 turtle nests were registered in the reserve during the first year. But since then, numbers of nests began to climb. A sea turtle only starts laying eggs at around 30 years of age, and during the first decade of the Archie Carr reserve, the number of nests slowly increased to around 200. Then numbers started booming. In 2011, researchers counted 6,023 nests on the beach, and the 2015 count broke all records, with a total of 14,152 nests. As each nest can contain up to 200 eggs, this could mean millions of new turtles.Read article ->