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After spending previous seasons looking at the exposure of marine turtle nesting beaches to different types of coastal modifications (Kristen’s 2017 Field Work ), this year Kristen Sella is looking at the quality of marine turtle nesting habitat adjacent to a specific type of coastal modification: coastal armoring. Her specific focus is areas of beach between seawalls where managers have managed to maintain a small area of nesting beach known as an artificial or urban pocket beach. It is unknown if these areas provide suitable habitat or how likely they are to be used by marine turtles. To address this, this summer she identified pocket beaches using aerial imagery on the beaches throughout the state of Florida. She then traveled around the state to ground truth a portion of these pocket beaches and collected data on each beach including slope, elevation and sand properties. This information will be compared to control beaches at adjacent armoring as well as nearby natural beaches. Kristen Sella is finishing up the last of her site visits and the next steps for this project will include sand analysis in the laboratory to include moisture content and sand grain size analysis. Final steps will include using a wave runup model to assess the likelihood of the pocket beaches to be inundated under high tide or storm conditions and a comparison of nesting data where available from local marine turtle permit holders.

This project was funded by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program. The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at