In August, Hurricane Idalia caused significant damage to the Pinellas County beaches. The economic toll was quick to emerge, with tens of millions of dollars in damage to the coastlines. The environmental toll on beach wildlife, however, has been harder to determine. Biologists are now reporting that sea turtle nests took a noticeable hit from the storm.
Researchers at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium found that of the 75 known sea turtle nests on county beaches before Idalia, only 14 survived. The storm contributed to fewer observed nests during the 2023 nesting season compared to the previous year. Although the long-term effects on the turtle population are not yet clear, storms are known to make sand dunes more compact, which could make it harder for turtles to lay eggs in the future.