ORLANDO, Fla. -- As Florida's east coast takes a pounding from Hurricane Dorian's tropical storm force winds, sea turtle nests are in danger of being washed out to sea.

The state accounts for 90% of the nation's sea turtle nests and many beaches along the Space Coast were expecting record numbers this year.

Conservation officials are urging the public not to interfere with mother nature by trying to rescue any stranded hatchlings or disturb buried nests.

"We're going to have a lot of sea turtles found by the general public," said Jennifer Winters, Volusia County's sea turtle habitat conservation plan manager. "There's not a lot we can do. Most likely once the eggs get pulled out of the sand, they're not going to be viable -- they're not going to make it."

On Friday, 397 sea turtle nests were recorded on Volusia County beaches. Since Saturday, about 40 nests were washed out and Winters said she expects the number to grow as Dorian continues on its path.

Before the Canaveral National Seashore closed Aug. 31 because of Dorian, more than 12,000 nests were counted so far this season, according to spokeswoman Laura Henning.

Beach runs were halted because of high tides that in some areas reached all the way up to the dunes so the hurricane's impact won't be known until after the storm passes, she added.

The threat of hurricane destruction to sea turtle nests is not new. After Hurricane Irma in 2017, thousands of green sea turtle nests at beaches along south Brevard County were obliterated, officials said.

But all hope is not lost during hurricane season.

When Florida sustained direct hits in 2004 from hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne, 42% of loggerhead nests hatched statewide, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Winters said some sea turtle nests will survive incubation despite torrential weather from a powerful storm. Female sea turtles reproduce every other year and each nest contains about 100 soft-shelled eggs the size of ping-pong balls.

"Mother nature's way for their survival is to lay multiple clutches throughout the summer," she said.

Volusia County staff and volunteers have already marked nearly 1,000 sea turtle nests this season, breaking the previous high nest count of 919 set in 2012. In 2018, 577 nests were counted.

This year, the bulk of the nests belong to loggerheads followed by green sea turtles, leatherbacks and a few Kemp's ridleys ? -- the most critically endangered sea turtle worldwide.

The rise in nests is attributed to conservation efforts by beach officials and volunteers from nonprofit groups. Metal screens are often installed over the nests after the eggs are buried and the mother returns safely to the ocean.

The Sea Turtle Preservation Society, based in Brevard County, is discouraging the public from trying to salvage any eggs that were unearthed by the weather.

"Yes, we want to help the turtles, but we need to help turtles through other mechanisms that will actually affect a change and contribute to the preservation and protection of the populations: skip the straw, reduce single use plastic, and educate others," the nonprofit organization said in a statement.

Videos on social media show people putting baby sea turtles in buckets of water in an attempt to save them, but FWC says hatchlings shouldn't be handled.