Share the Beach: Keep Sea Turtles Safe
Every year Florida’s east coast beaches have very special guests that arrive from May 1st to October 31st. Sea Turtles nest on the beaches from Jacksonville to Miami. Loggerhead, Green, Leatherback, and sometimes the very rare Kemp’s Ridley make their appearances to dig a hole in the sand and deposit anywhere from 100-120 eggs each time. Most of the females will nest 3-4 times in one season. Only one out of 1,000 eggs will survive to a mature adulthood and return to nest. All of these species are either endangered or threatened, so it is extremely vital that people do everything they can to protect these ancient nomad’s and their nesting habitats. Here are a few things that you can do to help the females and the hatchlings (baby sea turtle):
Clean up the beach. After a day of fun in the sun be sure to remove ALL belongings. Chairs and umbrellas can pose hazards to nesting females and hatchlings as they make their way up and down the beach.
Fill in any holes you make or find when on the beach. Holes are deadly to females if they fall in and can be a trap to hatchlings.
Keep the beach DARK and Turn off your lights! Beach front properties should keep outdoor lighting turned off. Shield any beach facing lights and equip them with amber or red bulbs. Sea turtles and hatchlings use the reflection of the MOON on the water for guidance to the ocean. Beach lighting can cause disorientation if the hatchling goes toward the light into the dune. Disorientations are deadly as the baby turtle can become dehydrated and also can become victim to predators. The female can “false crawl” if she becomes scared by the artificial lighting.
Use a red filtered sticker on your flashlight when walking on the beach at night to not disturb any nesting females or hatchlings making an attempt to get to the ocean waters edge. Refrain from using any bonfires, torches or lanterns.
Do NOT Disturb any nesting female or any hatchlings you encounter. Flashes on a camera can be disorienting so refrain from taking any photos. Hatchlings need to crawl on their own to build strength and endurance before they enter the ocean water when they must begin swimming to the Sargasso Sea where they hang out growing up. The Sargasso Sea provides vital nutrients and protection from predators.
These tips are not only good practice for keeping the sea turtles safe; they aim to share the beach with all living creatures that call it home. Have a fun and safe summer 2016.