The release of sea turtle nesting data for the 2018 season shows nesting activity was down across the state.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute reported Tuesday that about 91,400 loggerhead nests were found, down about 5,000 nests from the previous year.

A social media post from FWC said the loggerhead nesting trends “remain complex, showing wide fluctuations among years, and it is still unknown what drives these fluctuations.”

According to FWC reports, since the organization began monitoring the activity in 1989, there was a minimum of 28,876 nests in 2007 and a maximum of 65,807 nests in 2016. FWC stressed that the numbers “do not represent Florida’s total annual nest counts because they are collected only on a subset of Florida’s beaches (27 out of 224 beaches) and only during a 109-day time window (May 15 to Aug. 31).”

Catherine Eastman, program manager for the Sea Turtle Hospital at the University of Florida Whitney Lab in Marineland, said scientists from around the state will meet soon to discuss the nesting data and share stories about their locations. But she said it was obvious that the activity in St. John's County was not robust.

“It wasn’t a gangbusters great year for St. Johns County,” Eastman said. “It wasn’t one of the lowest ones, either.”

The loggerhead numbers here pale in comparison to places like Brevard County (23,294 nests) or Palm Beach County (24,876 nests). However, Eastman said the turtles that nest here add to the biodiversity of the species, which is crucial to their long-term survival.

Eastman added that many of the beaches in this county are not ideal for sea turtle nests because the sand is hard-packed, due in part to renourishment and traffic from vehicles and walkers.

As for green turtles, the FWC notes that they nest more abundantly every other year, which contributes to the two-year spikes in their nesting numbers in Florida. About 4,500 nests were reported in 2018 after 53,000 nests were reported in 2017.

Florida is the only state in the continental United States where leatherback turtles regularly nest. This year’s statewide total (949) is similar to 2016 and up from 663 nests in 2017.

Kemp’s ridley and hawksbill sea turtles also nest in Florida but in small numbers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.