Sea turtles are beautiful, mysterious, ancient creatures.
They migrate long distances to feed, often swimming across entire oceans. They can weigh more than 1,000 pounds and they spend their entire lives at sea, except when adult females crawl ashore to lay eggs every two to five years.
Sadly, from leatherbacks to loggerheads, six of the seven species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered – but you can help protect them.
During nesting season on Sunshine State beaches, from March 1 to Oct. 31 on the Atlantic and from May 1 to Oct. 31 on the Gulf of Mexico, just heed these simple turtle tips.
- If you encounter a nesting turtle, remain quiet and observe from a distance.
- Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach. Artificial lights can affect sea turtle behavior. (For instance, the hatchlings instincts tell them to crawl toward the brightest thing, which should be the sea. If they end up crawling toward the highway instead the outcome is obviously not good.)
- Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water.
- Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water.
- Place trash in its proper place.
- Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise or shine lights at turtles.
- Use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
- Encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.
- Use fireworks on the beach.
For more information on how you can help, surf over to the Sea Turtle Preservation Society’s website.