Rare Sea Turtle Spotted Nesting in Volusia County


The rarest species of sea turtle in the world was spotted nesting in Volusia County this week, to the excitement of the local scientific community. A Kemp’s ridley sea turtle was photographed in Ponce Inlet making its nest, part of a record-breaking year for sea turtle nesting on Volusia beaches.

The turtle was photographed at the site of its nest, and making its way back into the Atlantic Ocean after it finished. When the hatchlings emerge from their shells, they’ll play a part in the efforts to return their kind, the smallest sea turtle on Earth, from the brink of extinction.

According to a social media post by the Volusia County government, this individual turtle has been tracked since its first tagging in 2005, and has visited Volusia to nest on eight separate occasions. It’s reportedly the 26th time a Kemp’s ridley turtle nest has been recorded in Volusia County in the last 28 years. The same turtle apparently also made another nest in Ponce Inlet in recent weeks.

The leading data on Kemp’s ridley sea turtle populations estimates that 7,000 to 9,000 of them remain alive today, up from some 200 in the 1980’s. They’re classified as a critically endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Threats to their species include oil spills, habitat loss, and accident catching in commercial fishing operations.

Once born, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles will take 10 to 15 years to reach sexual maturity, at which point they’ll have the chance to lay one or multiple nests of eggs in each breeding season. They’re found most commonly along the Atlantic coast of North America, especially in the Gulf of Mexico in both the U.S. and Mexico. Individuals have also been found on the Atlantic coast of Europe, in countries like Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.

The sighting of Volusia County’s turtle was not far from the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, an organization which plays an active role in the conservation of sea turtles in local waters. Just this month the Center released four rehabilitated juvenile green sea turtles according to a video on their Facebook page.