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Turtles are unable to find their way back to the water

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As adult turtles are coming ashore to lay their eggs, Sarasota and Manatee county beaches are seeing a high number of turtles getting disoriented and unable to find their way back to the water.

Mote Marine Lab Sea Turtle Patrol has recorded 23 instances of disoriented adult turtles. That number is more than double the ten observed last year and the 15 in 2011.

It is unusual for turtles to have trouble finding their way back to sea, stated Suzi Fox, director of the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch.

At least six female sea turtles have become disoriented last summer on Anna Maria Island. This is three times as many as in the past 15 years combined.

Fox said her staff often had to help lead them back to shore, which is not an easy task when dealing with animals that according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, can weigh as much as 1,300 pounds.

"One trend that we're seeing is that the nesting beaches themselves are extremely narrow," Fox said.

She said they hope to replenish the beaches with more sand by the time this nesting season is over.

David Godfrey, the executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, noted that disorientation can pose a threat to turtles, which are classified as either endangered or threatened under the endangered species act.

“The state of Florida hosts 90 percent of sea turtle nesting in the United States,” Godfrey said. "What happens on the beaches is vital to our sea turtle population."

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