Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge
The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge (ACNWR), located mostly in Brevard County, was established in 1991 to protect habitat for the most significant area for loggerhead sea turtle nesting in the Western Hemisphere and the most significant area for green turtle nesting in North America.
The number of nests in this area represents 25-35% of all loggerhead and green sea turtle nests in the US. The leatherback turtle, which is one of the world’s largest and rarest sea turtles, also nests here in much smaller numbers. This refuge was named after the late Dr. Archie Carr, Jr., in honor of his extraordinary contribution to sea turtle conservation. The refuge is a result of Dr. Carr’s efforts to bring attention to the world’s declining turtle populations. It seems fitting that STPS continues its efforts to help sea turtles survive in this special area.
The beach within the ACNWF, which lies between Melbourne Beach and Wabasso Beach, is 20.5 miles long. Since this long stretch of beach is located on a barrier island and there are 25 miles between causeways, this has significantly limited population growth/density and created a somewhat ideal nesting beach. It is considered essential to the reproductive success and survival of the 15,000 to 20,000 sea turtle nests that are found here annually. This amount of nests equate to approximately 1.5 to 2 million hatchlings annually. However, only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings survive to reproductive age (20-25 years).
Indian River Lagoon
The Indian River Lagoon is a picturesque body of water that boaters and wildlife enthusiasts enjoy alike.
The IRL is also a developmental foraging habitat for juvenile loggerhead and green sea turtles. You may encounter loggerheads and greens while boating in the IRL. They spend a significant portion of their life cycle in this diverse estuary.
Loggerheads and greens nest on Brevard County beaches from May through October. After about 55 days, they hatch out of their eggs and crawl to the Atlantic Ocean where they swim across the Gulf Stream to the Sargassum Sea (floating seaweed beds). They live in these seaweed beds until they become juveniles; about 7-12 years for loggerheads (about 20” in size) and 2-7 years for greens (about 12” in size). As juveniles, the loggerheads and greens travel to coastal areas like the IRL where they forage and continue to grow until they reach adulthood.