Sea turtle nesting season in Florida is officially upon us, and this year, the season has seen less human interaction as beaches closed down due to COVID-19 spread concerns. Sea turtle nest numbers have exploded during these closures, more than doubling compared to recent years. But as the beaches open to the public, the increase of human and animal interactions could negatively impact the budding turtle population.\n“More people on the beach always means more interactions with animals,” Justin Perrault, the Director of Research at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center told Narcity. “We really hope that the beaches reopening happens at a normal rate and not with a huge influx of people at once, so they don’t get overwhelmed.”\nThe center monitors a 9.5 mile stretch of beach in Juno Beach, and so far, they have counted 102 leatherback and 41 loggerhead nests for a whopping total of 143 this year. By this time last year, only 41 total nests were located by staff.\nThis increase is also already well ahead of the trend from the previous nesting record set in 2009, where the season yielded a total of 340 nests. If nesting were to continue at the current rate, it could well surpass that record — and it's still very early on in the season, which runs until the end of October.\nView this post on Instagram #ConservationSunday Globally, we produce over 300 million tons of plastic, 50% of which is for single-use purposes - – utilized for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred years. Of this total, it’s estimated more than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans each year. The plastics photodegrade, breaking down into microplastics and are ingested by marine life, including hatchling sea turtles. This #SuperBowlSunday, protect wildlife by responsibly disposing of all of your celebratory items. PC: @traceybensonphotography #superbowl #superbowl2020 #superbowlparty #superbowlliv #superbowl🏈 #superbowlmiami #superbowlsnacks #wildlifeconservation #conservationphotography #49ers #49ersnation #cheifs #cheifsnation #hardrockhotel #miami #miami🌴 A post shared by Loggerhead Marinelife Center (@loggerheadmarinelifecenter) on Feb 2, 2020 at 4:46pm PST\nNearly all species of sea turtles are currently endangered and at risk of extinction. This boom offers a little bit of hope for the future of these creatures.\nPerrault speculated that the nest increases and the nesting season starting earlier than normal could be due to warmer waters and better foraging grounds, but said it’s too early to tell whether the decrease of people on beaches has also caused a lasting impact.\nIncreased foot traffic, holes in the sand, chairs, litter, and light disturbances can become obstacles for nesting females and hatchlings, greatly decreasing their chances of creating a successful nest and the baby turtle's survival.\n“High-rise condos are hotspots for the highest rates of disorientation in turtles,” says Perrault. “The interior lighting can confuse them and lead them away from shore.”\nView this post on Instagram Did you know? It is estimated that 80% of all trash in the ocean comes from land. Even if you live far away, your trash can still make its way to the ocean through storm drains, rivers, and streams. Everyone can help make a difference in keeping our ocean clean by reducing their disposable plastic usage and helping to clean up their nearest waterway! In January 2020, LMC and partner organizations removed over 600 pounds of marine debris, 95.2% was made of plastic! #PlasticFreewithLMC #NoPlanetb A post shared by Loggerhead Marinelife Center (@loggerheadmarinelifecenter) on Feb 16, 2020 at 11:51am PST\nAs for whether the percentage of surviving turtles will be impacted by beaches reopening, Perrault told Narcity that this was actually a priority question that The Fish and Wildlife Conservation seek to solve.\n“But they’re stretched thin just like everyone else,” he explained. “They’re protecting not just turtles, but all wildlife in Florida."\nView this post on Instagram #TurtleTuesday Nest Alert!! This morning we surveyed a new green sea turtle nest! This puts our total to 20,998! Only two nests to go until we hit 21,000, will we make it?? - It is important to note that even though nesting season is coming to a close on Oct. 31 that nests can continue to hatch out through the end of the year! Please help us keep our beaches clean and dark, to increase the odds that sea turtle hatchlings safely make it to their ocean home! #seaturtlenesting #loggerheadmarinelifecenter #LoveFL #ThePalmBeaches #PalmBeachCulture A post shared by Loggerhead Marinelife Center (@loggerheadmarinelifecenter) on Oct 29, 2019 at 2:04pm PDT\nHow can humans do their part to keep sea turtles thriving through this boom? Throwing away trash on beaches, reducing the use of single-use plastics, filling in holes you may dig in the sand, not using excessive light, and not handling wild turtles all contribute to the conservation of these gentle sea creatures.\nWhen you return to your favorite Florida beach this season, remember that we’re not just sharing it with humans, we're also sharing it with creatures that call our sunny shores home.\n*Photos used for illustrative purposes.