Singer Island is a Refuge for Sea Turtles

Posted by Amanda Hicks on Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 at 3:53pm.

 
Singer Island is recognized as one of the most important beaches in the country for loggerhead sea turtle nesting. It is also a nesting habitat for green sea turtles and leatherbacks. While the latter two have seen a population increase in recent years, loggerhead sea turtle nesting has had a general decline since 1998. 
 
Loggerhead sea turtles get their name for their large heads and powerful jaws, allowing them to crush hard-shelled prey like clams and mussels. They can reach 4 feet in length and weigh 400 pounds. Internationally, loggerheads are listed as endangered, but in the U.S. they are listed as threatened as opposed to endangered, thanks to room to nest on clean beaches like Singer Island and other area beaches. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach monitors a 9.5 miles of beach from South Jupiter Island to John D. Mac Arthur State Park in North Palm, directly above Singer Island. That small stretch of beach supports a whole five percent of the world's loggerhead sea turtle nests. The center has recorded nearly 4,000 loggerhead nests this season.
 
Nesting season is from March 1st - October 31st, except for leatherbacks who only nest until July. Leatherbacks are the largest turtles; adults can weight more than 2,000 pounds and reach almost 7 feet. The turtles have a lifespan of about 80 years and they are critical to marine ecosystems and help support the health of coral reefs and sea grass beds.

According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy Organization, the biggest threat to the turtles is loss of nesting habitats due to coastal development, predation of nests, and other human disturbances like coastal lighting that causes disorientation when the hatchlings emerge. Other major threats include incidental capture in longline fishing, shrimp trawling and pollution. Incidental capture in fisheries has played a significant role in the recent population declines observed for the loggerhead. 

Because a lack of nesting sites is the biggest threat to turtles, it is important to preserve the areas where turtles are visiting to lay their eggs. Since Singer Island and North Palm are sanctuaries for the turtles, residents and visitors can help protect these animals by keeping beaches clean, avoiding nests, filling holes and moving debris that could be in the way of a turtle's path to the ocean, and looking out for hatchlings on beach trails and nearby roads. 

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