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Laboring for loggerheads

(ran South, East, Seminole editions)

A set of loggerhead sea turtle tracks, foreground in picture at bottom, lead to and from a nest, background, on north Clearwater Beach, where Clearwater Marine Aquarium biologist Glenn Harman and assistant biologist Tammy Langer work on putting a raccoon trap over the nest. The trap keeps raccoons, dogs and people from getting to the eggs. At left, Harman, crouching in the sand at Indian Rocks Beach, reburies some eggs after moving them farther up on the beach away from the tide as Gage Combs, 3, watches from the arms of his father, Scott Combs. Below, a clutch of turtle eggs lie in the hole just before Harman moved them to safer ground. Loggerhead turtles usually lay an average of 120 eggs, which are soft and leathery and resemble pingpong balls. More than 90 percent of the loggerhead sea turtles in the United States nest in Florida, and the nesting season runs from April through September. The turtles are a threatened species.

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