SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) – Rare sea turtles that spend summers laying eggs on Southern beaches have crawled to a new state record in Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources said Wednesday that more than 3,960 loggerhead sea turtle nests have been counted this year along the Georgia coast.

That’s 10 more nests than the previous state record set in 2019. Giant loggerhead sea turtles are protected as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Every summer they crawl onto beaches from Florida to the Carolinas to lay their eggs.

An army of volunteers in each state works to record each nest and protect it from predators. The nesting season in Georgia typically runs from May through August.