The Peach State is breaking records for something wonderful happening on its coasts. During the first week of August, Georgia officially surpassed its record for sea turtle nests with researchers recording 3,966. The last record setting year was 2019 when researchers tallied 3,956 nests.
Jekyll Island also saw a record number of sea turtle nests on its 10 miles of beaches. Biologists from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center found 236 nests in 2022, the highest amount ever recorded for the island.
Scientists say the nesting loggerhead turtle population increases each year in Georgia by approximately 4 percent, and that number has been rising since the 90s. Thanks to the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative, which includes hundreds of volunteers fanned out across the coast and researchers from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Jekyll Island’s sea turtle nests are carefully monitored and protected from predators.
Their conservation and protection efforts are paying off for this endangered reptile. So far this year, more than 6,000 loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings have emerged from nests on Jekyll Island. And they’re coming from a growing number of mothers that keep coming back to the island to lay eggs. One female sea turtle can lay multiple clutches of eggs per season, with some returning to the same area to nest just a few weeks after laying eggs. In 2019, 83 sea turtles were responsible for the 199 nests found on Jekyll’s beaches. Genetic analysis is underway right now to determine how many mama sea turtles laid eggs on its shores this year.
Something truly fascinating about this news is that the turtles behind the record number of nests were once hatchlings on these same beaches. According to the NOAA, mature sea turtles return to the same beach where they hatched decades earlier to lay their own eggs.
Sea turtles should be proud to call Jekyll Island home, as it serves as a dedicated state park with a mission of “maintaining the delicate balance between nature and humankind.” The Jekyll Island Authority, a self-supporting state entity, set up parameters to protect the island’s ecosystem while still creating an inviting destination for visitors. Although it only has 10 miles of shoreline, the island offers a wide array of features for those looking to get away.
Each beach on Jekyll Island has its own unique flair. St. Andrews is known for its magnificent bird watching, while Driftwood Beach is known for its Instagram-worthy photo ops. Hop on a bike and ride along the island’s 22 miles of scenic paths or grab your clubs for a game of golf along the island’s pristine lakes. Just look out for alligators.
And don’t be fooled by the state park designation. You can still find plenty of luxury on Jekyll Island, like the boutique Beachview Club Hotel which boasts views of the ocean and century-old live oaks, or the historic Jekyll Island Club Resort which dates back to 1888.