By Dinah Voyles Pulver
Guided by an ancient instinct that isn’t fully understood, sea turtles visit Florida’s sandy beaches in droves each year between May and October to lay their eggs, making the state’s coastline one of the world’s leading turtle nesting areas.
Laden with ping-pong ball-sized eggs, tens of thousands of female turtles made the laborious crawl this year. An army of researchers, professional and volunteer, staked and marked the nests, in part to track how many hatchlings emerged to scramble to the sea. It was a banner year, and as nest numbers grew, they celebrated.
But then, powerful Hurricane Irma approached in early September. Turtle researchers waited with foreboding concern.