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  Yahoo News 25 Sep 06
Scientists study decline in turtle nests in Florida

STUART, Fla. - Scientists are trying to figure out why the number of loggerhead sea turtle nests has declined significantly over the past seven years.

Sea turtle biologists said this summer has seen the smallest number of nests on local beaches in 25 years along the Treasure Coast. The trend has been seen throughout Florida, but is especially noticeable from Brevard to Palm Beach counties, where 80 percent of the sea turtle nesting takes place in Florida.

The lack of nests could be a sign of a population decline.

Anne Meylan, with Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, said biologists were analyzing nesting data dating back to 1989 to document statistical changes in turtle nesting habits.

Meylan said about 70 juvenile loggerhead turtles beached themselves last week on the beaches from St. Augustine north to the Georgia border.

Scientists think the deaths were caused by a toxin in the water, but studies are continuing.

Last year, hundreds of turtles washed ashore after being exposed to red tide blooms along the Gulf Coast.

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