Sea turtle nesting season began May 1 and will continue through October. To help protect these creatures, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recommends following these turtle-friendly practices.
- It’s a sea turtle night, turn off the light – After sundown, turn off any lights not necessary for human safety. Use long wavelength amber LED lamps for lights that must stay lit and shield lights so they are not visible from the beach. Remember to close shades or curtains.
- Sea turtles get lost in the light – On the beach at night, don’t take flash photos or use bright cellphones or flashlights.
- Sea turtles are protected and must be respected – Stay back and give sea turtles space if you see one on the beach at night. Don’t touch a nesting turtle because it may leave the beach without nesting if disturbed. Remember, it is illegal to harm or disturb nesting sea turtles, their nests, eggs or hatchlings.
- Clear the way at the end of the day – Beach furniture, canopies, boats and toys left behind on the sand can become obstacles that block nesting and hatchling turtles. Fill in any holes dug in the sand.
- Keep your distance from nests and hatchlings – Do not handle hatchlings crawling toward the water. Any interference or disturbance by people, such as getting too close or taking flash photos, increases the chances the hatchlings will get confused, go in the wrong direction and not reach the ocean quickly. That makes them vulnerable to dehydration, exhaustion and predators. As with all wildlife, watching from a distance is best.
FWC has a helpful brochure on sharing the beach with sea turtles. Visit myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/sea-turtle/ for even more information on sea turtles.
To report someone disturbing a sea turtle nest or an injured, dead or harassed sea turtle, call Wildlife Alert 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922) or report it online. Mobile phone users can text 847411 (Tip411) with keyword “FWC” and information about the violation or use the “FWC Wildlife Alert” app from the Apple Store of Google Play.
(Photos courtesy FWC)
Heads up: Learn about Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch’s efforts to protect sea turtles at our June 22 Thoughtful Thursday at The Oaks.