Sea turtles have delivered a nesting season for the record books.
The Associated Press reported today that 2015 has held “one of the strongest summer nesting seasons on record” for sea turtles along the beaches from North Carolina to Florida. According to researchers, the season has proven to be a rebound for the creatures after a 2014 slump.
Two more states have seen individual nesting records broken during their seasons. In Georgia, where the nesting season runs from May through August, scientists and volunteers recorded 2,292 loggerhead sea turtle nests, setting a new state record for the fifth season in six years.
Though Florida’s nesting season will continue through October, green sea turtles have already broken a record within the state’s Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge: 12,000 of the endangered creatures dug nests along the beach there, a number never seen before seen at the refuge.
This year’s numbers are giving researchers hope that sea turtle numbers are making a comeback.
“Every big year we get, the more confident we are in that conclusion that we’re in a recovery period,” Mark Dodd, a biologist at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, told the AP. “So we feel really good about it.”
Any sort of celebration may have to wait for at least a quarter century, however. Kate Mansfield, head of the Marine Turtle Research Group at the University of Central Florida, told the AP that turtles can’t reproduce until they’ve reached at least 25 years old.
“It’s promising and exciting, but the long term perspective is needed and helps put what we see now in a broader perspective,” Mansfield said. “For the past five years we’ve had good years, but we have to look at this over 25-plus years.”