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Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet caring for record number of injured gopher tortoises

PONCE INLET, Fla. — The Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet says it is about to set a new record for the number of injured gopher tortoises it is taking care of.

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Some of the tortoises have dog bites and cracked shells from being hit by cars.

However, a major disruptor has been the damage to Central Florida’s beaches from hurricanes.

See: Off to the races: Brevard Zoo releases sea turtle to compete in ‘Tour de Turtles’

Some of the tortoises are vulnerable due to their distributed environment and because of the crowds who visit the coast.

“If you see them and they’re not in danger, leave them be,” said Allie Bernstein, manager of Turtle Rehab. “Don’t put them into the ocean. They’re not meant to be there. Some of them are traversing the beaches to get to other habitats.”

Read: Flagler County nighttime beachgoers asked to be mindful of sea turtles; how you can help hatchlings

Wildlife officials are also sharing some good news.

Volusia County’s coast has seen a record number of sea turtle nests this year despite the damage to the beach.

Watch: Rising temperatures threaten sea turtle population in Florida, researchers say

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