With Hurricane Dorian's gray skies, angry seas out of range, officials in Volusia, Flagler counties are assessing erosion and damage to beaches.
While it stayed far enough east of Volusia and Flagler counties' coastline to avert catastrophe, Hurricane Dorian did erode beaches, drown thousands of sea turtle eggs and shut down one fishing spot — at least temporarily.
John Simko, a structural engineer working for the city of Daytona Beach, determined Dorian's heavy surf Tuesday and Wednesday damaged the easternmost section of the Daytona Pier, said Susan Cerbone, a city spokeswoman.
"Damage to the structure’s cross bracing and decking was found," Cerbone wrote in an email. "The eastern section is the fishing portion of the pier. It will be closed until further notice."
The section of pier connected to land and including Joe's Crab Shack has been cleared to reopen, she said.
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Assessments on erosion were continuing Thursday.
Some effects have been seen in the sand in Ponce Inlet, said Kate Sark, a Volusia County community information specialist. Tides and water levels were still being affected by the storm Thursday, making it difficult to assess erosion.
One traditionally problematic area for erosion, State Road A1A in Flagler County, was passable. Flagler County's new $20 million dune system appears to have held up well.
Dorian, which ravaged the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane, had been downgraded to a Cat-2 as it careened north, past Volusia and Flagler counties 100 miles off the coast. Yet it was strong enough to have stirred up enough sea to wash away or drown thousands of sea turtle nests.
That includes between 300 and 400 sea turtle nests in the area of Volusia County north of Canaveral National Seashore, said Jennifer Winters, Volusia County's sea turtle habitat conservation plan program manager.
[READ MORE: Sea turtle nests in Volusia, Flagler near record numbers in 2019]
[READ MORE: Volusia-Flagler beaches nearly debris-free after Hurricane Dorian]
This has been a record season for sea turtle nests in Volusia, with nearly 1,000 producing 40,000 successfully hatched egg shells prior to Friday, Winters said.
"It's devastating. That's mother nature," said Beth Libert of Volusia Turtle Patrol. Her group also monitors Flagler County, where they esimtate between 150 and 200 nests have been lost, but the assessing was still continuing late Thursday and she suspects the real number might end up close to 300.
Along Canaveral National Seashore's 24 miles bridging southern Volusia and northern Brevard counties, a record 13,000 nests had been built, with more than half having already produced hatchlings before Dorian. Early assessments indicate that about 25 percent of the remaining 6,000 nests were lost.
"We certainly dodged a bullet and got lucky," said Kristen Kneifl, chief of resource management for the seashore. "We were expecting to lose everything."
Some of the hatchlings that made it to sea will not have survived the storm.
"Those are called washbacks and we are on a washback lookout," said Laura Henning, public information officer for the seashore.
Even as people were on high alert preparing for the deadly hurricane that caused massive destruction to the Bahamas on its approach to the United States, sea turtles were going about their business.
"We were still getting nests during the weekend. We still had turtles laying eggs," Winters said.
The storm damaged nests two ways. With eggs buried about 2 feet deep in the sand, erosion allows the surf to wash out the eggs. Also, storm surge can be deadly.
"If the eggs are held underwater for too long, they stop developing and they drown," Winters said. "It looks like we lost the majority of them because they were washed out due to erosion."
Dillon Schoolcraft, a 15-year-old sophomore at Seabreeze High School, spent several hours on the beach near Andy Romano Park in Ormond Beach picking up trash and debris following the storm. Among his discoveries were sea-turtle nest signs strewn about and a dead turtle hatchling.
"It was more or less pretty devastating to the turtles," he said.
With Dorian passed, there are many more eggs to be laid. Nesting season is from May 1 to Oct. 31.