Department officials say they're recording the first increase in nests since 1989 when scientists began surveying the reproduction of these animals that the federal government has listed as threatened.
"This is what we've been waiting for for 20 years," said Mark Dodd, coordinator for the department's sea-turtle program.
Researchers tallied 2,200 nests on Georgia coasts during the summer, the third year in a row of record-breaking surveys. This year's figure is up 11 percent higher from 2011.
The department concludes that the trend has in deed turned around, despite typical fluctuations in annual nest counts.