Keynoter Publishing March 4, 2015 Updated 16 hours ago
It can be thrilling to watch a sea turtle crawl onto the beach at night and dig a large hole in the sand to lay dozens of eggs. Just remember that “do not disturb” is the best behavior to follow when observing a nesting sea turtle.
Don’t get too close to them, shine lights on them or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles.
Spring is the beginning of sea turtle nesting season in Florida. From now through the end of October, thousands of sea turtles will land on Atlantic and Gulf coast beaches to lay their eggs.
Last year in Monroe County, surveyors found 600 loggerhead sea turtle nests and 120 green turtle nests, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
With Florida hosting one of the largest loggerhead nesting aggregations in the world, this becomes an opportunity for residents and visitors to play an important role in conserving these long-lived reptiles.
“Take care when you’re on a Florida beach at night and do not disturb the nesting sea turtles,” said Dr. Robbin Trindell, who leads the FWC’s sea turtle management program. “People can help save threatened and endangered sea turtles by giving them enough space and privacy to safely and successfully lay their eggs. It’s as simple as keeping your distance and avoiding shining lights or taking flash photos of the nesting sea turtles.”
Loggerheads, leatherbacks and green turtles are the primary species of sea turtles that nest in the Sunshine State. Loggerheads had another good nesting year in 2014 with 86,870 nests recorded statewide, says the FWC.
Ways to protect nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings:
Remain at a distance from nesting turtles and hatchlings.
Remove chairs, canopies, boats and other items from the beach at night because they block the movement of turtles and hatchings.
Turn off or shield lights along the beach to prevent hatchlings from getting confused and going toward lights on land instead of the saltwater, where they belong.
Use red LED flashlights on the beach at night, adjust cell-phone screens to dark mode and don’t take flash photos.
Fill in holes that people dug in the sand during the day so nesting sea turtles and hatchlings don’t fall in and get stuck there at night.
Correctly dispose of fishing line so it won’t entangle sea turtles and other animals.
Remember it is illegal to harm, harass or take sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings. Report sick, injured, entangled or dead sea turtles to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline, (888) 404-3922.