St. Johns County sea turtle nests starting off slow

by: Brittany Jones Updated:

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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - Northeast Florida and Georgia beaches are experiencing a shortage of sea turtles this year. It's the first time in three years that environmentalists in St. Johns County have seen such a decrease. 

Sea turtles are a sight beachgoers like the Smiciklas family love to see, but this year the sea turtles are becoming scarce.

"It's something that you'd hate to see go away," said Mike Smiciklas. 

The family said they frequent the St. Johns County beach most times just to see the marine life like the sea turtles.

"I've seen them in the past," said Mike Smiciklas.

St. Johns County environment supervisor Tara Dodson said this year, the nests are declining.

"In terms of why we're seeing that dip this year, just nobody can really tell you," said Dodson.

Dodson said weather and cooler temperatures a couple of months ago could be responsible. She said in 2010, the county saw record numbers of nearly 900 nests. Dodson said in 2013 there were nearly 400 nests; so far this year, there's about 220.

"I just hope that maybe it's just a seasonal issue and maybe with some changes of the weather patterns that they can find their home again," said Mike Smiciklas. "I just think that they're awesome, when I'm out fishing I see a turtle come around the boat or I see one even in here around shore."

Dodson said the county's hands are tied. She said the county can only continue to collect data on nest growth, but it'll be up to the state and federal government to look into the issue. Dodson said if you do encounter one of the sea turtles, stay a safe distance from them or any nesting activity.