Timely Turtle Tips
By Lauren Tjaden
May through October is sea-turtle nesting time on Sunshine State beaches, when mother sea turtles crawl ashore to lay their eggs and bury them in the dunes.
Though last year Florida boasted a staggering 52,374 loggerhead sea turtle nests (according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), that number pales in comparison to past years. The number of loggerhead nests has dropped approximately 40 percent since 1998 at Florida beaches tracked for long-term trends.
You don’t need to stick your neck out to help keep our turtles out of trouble. Here are a few timely turtle tips to heed during nesting season, from May through October.
Do’s and Don’ts:
· 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 hatchings instincts tell them to crawl towards the brightest thing, which should be the sea. If they end up crawling towards 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, check out the Sea Turtle Preservation Society in Melbourne Beach.