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Sea Turtle Populations On The Rise In Florida But Still Face Threats

The loggerhead turtle is the most common sea turtle found in Florida. Females return to their nesting beach every two or more years.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
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The loggerhead turtle is the most common sea turtle found in Florida. Females return to their nesting beach every two or more years.

By Robin Sussingham, Stephanie Colombini, Steve Newborn and Cathy Carter.

They’ve had to battle shark attacks, pollution, massive beach developments and confusing light sources, but sea turtles are bouncing back.

With nesting season well underway, Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham speaks with experts about how sea turtles are faring and efforts to protect them in our state.

We talk about how efforts by sea turtle monitoring groups have contributed to populations of some species increasing dramatically over the past few decades.  

RELATED: It's Sea Turtle Nesting Season For Florida's Gulf Coast

We learn about the many threats these turtles continue to face, including habitat loss from development and sea level rise.

And we talk about why people should care about protecting sea turtles. We learn that besides being cute, sea turtles play vital roles in keeping ocean ecosystems healthy and can help control populations of other marine life.

RELATED: Florida Aquarium Sea Turtle Rehabiliation Center Opens In Apollo Beach

Our guests include:

Joe Widlansky, also known as “Turtle Joe,” vice president of operations for the nonprofit Sea Turtle Trackers in St. Pete Beach.

Dr. Ari Fustukjian, senior staff veterinarian at the Florida Aquarium, which just opened its Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Apollo Beach.

We also hear from Melissa Bernhard, a senior biologist with Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium and its Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, who speaks with Florida Matters reporter Cathy Carter as they tour turtle nesting sites along Lido Key in Sarasota.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
Robin is Senior Editor at WUSF, spearheading the station's podcasting initiatives and helping to guide the vision for special reporting projects and creative storytelling. She created The Zest, the station's podcast that's all about food, which she continues to host and serve as senior producer.
Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.