Floridians are stewards for endangered sea turtles, scientist tells Stetson law campus

“Florida is a very special place for sea turtles and Floridians play an important role as stewards,” Dr. Anne Meylan, senior research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told students, faculty, and members of the public gathered on March 1 on Stetson law school’s Gulfport campus to hear her talk.

Dr. Meylan presented “Florida’s Global Importance as a Nesting Site for Sea Turtles” as part of Stetson’s Edward and Bonnie Foreman Biodiversity Lecture Series.

She described the five endangered species of sea turtles nesting on Florida’s shores and the state’s important role. She illustrated how Florida hosts 90 percent of all loggerhead sea turtle nests in the U.S.

“Florida’s beaches are threatened in a way they never have been before,” said Dr. Meylan, who explained that Florida has more than 800 miles of nesting beaches.

Dr. Meylan said that factors including coastal development, sea level rise and erosion all threaten successful sea turtle nesting in Florida.

She said that enforcement of existing and new coastal management regulations, habitat design and conservation, land acquisition, conservation easements and a retreat from the shoreline could all help preserve Florida’s beaches as nesting sites for the endangered sea turtles.

Professor Royal Gardner, director of the Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy, introduced Dr. Meylan.

The final presentation in Stetson’s spring biodiversity lecture series is scheduled for 5 p.m. on April 13 in the Great Hall. The lecture will feature Elizabeth Gitari, advocate of the High Court of Kenya and legal affairs manager of WildlifeDirect, speaking on the prosecution of the illegal wildlife trade.