It’s sea turtle nesting season in the Sunshine State. That means if you’re heading to the beach, you may come across a nest roped off in the sand.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking the public to help ensure the tiny turtles reach the ocean by following a few simple guidelines.
- Pay attention. Sea turtle nesting season lasts from March 1 to Oct. 31 in Brevard through Broward counties, where most leatherback nesting occurs, and May 1 to Oct. 31 in all other counties.
- Allow hatchlings to crawl toward the ocean on their own. Any interference or disturbance, including getting too close, can cause hatchlings to become confused and lose their way.
- Keep beaches dark for sea turtles. 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.
- Don’t use flash photography. On the beach at night, don’t take flash photos or use bright cellphones or flashlights. This can cause turtles to become disoriented and crawl away from the ocean, putting them at risk.
- Remember, sea turtles are protected by law. 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. Holes can trap turtles, and can also pose a safety risk for other beachgoers.
- Before taking any action, report sea turtles that are sick, injured, dead, entangled or otherwise in danger to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 1-888-404-3922 or text Tip@MyFWC.com.
- Learn more about Florida’s sea turtles at MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle.
- Show your support for sea turtle conservation with a specialty license plate or sea turtle decal.
Cox Media Group