Dry Tortugas National Park is a 99 square mile area, inside which are important nesting grounds for Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas marine turtles. Both species of marine turtle are endangered, and the park helps protect these turtles by the utilization of a research natural area (RNA). Two beaches within the park are of major importance to the marine turtles nesting habits, Loggerhead and East Key. Loggerhead Key is an index beach (indicator of marine turtle population numbers) found within the RNA, while East Key is the site of hundreds of marine turtle nests, and is found outside of the marine protected zone. The Dry Tortugas sea turtle nesting behaviors and the environmental effects on these behaviors are key to determining the need for higher protection of East Key. Overall themes that support this need of protection of East Key include higher nesting density, lower predation, and increasing erosion. It is recommended to expand the RNA or to create a separate protected area around East Key in order to alleviate the environmental stressors on these endangered marine turtles.
Claycomb, Kara, "Assessment of Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas nesting activities to determine if East Key should become a marine protected area at Dry Tortugas National Park , Florida." (2015). Internship Reports (Restricted). 67.
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