The month of May marks the beginning of sea turtle nesting season on many of Florida’s beaches.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking property owners and beach visitors to help nesting turtles and hatchlings by turning off or shielding lights that are visible from the beach at night.
Helping to keep the beaches dark at night is one of the most important things that can be done to help sea turtles.
Even small artificial house lights, a flashlight or cellphone camera can confuse female sea turtles and their hatchlings, causing them to wander off course.
According to the FWC, more loggerhead turtles nest in Florida than anywhere else in the continental United States, with 91,451 loggerhead nests counted statewide during the 2018 nesting season.
Leatherback and green sea turtles also nest in significant numbers in our state.
Follow these FWC basics to be sea turtle friendly:
• Turn off the light. After sundown, turn off any lights not necessary for human safety. Close shades or curtains, too.
- Don’t take flash photos or use bright cellphones or flashlights on the beach at night.
- Stay back and give sea turtles space if you see one on the beach at night. Do not touch a nesting turtle. It is illegal to harm or disturb nesting sea turtles, their nests, eggs or hatchlings.
- Clear the way by removing beach furniture, canopies, boats and toys left behind on the sand. These items 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 increases the chances the hatchlings will get confused, go in the wrong direction and not reach the ocean quickly, which makes them vulnerable to dehydration, exhaustion and predators.
The FWC maintains a list of certified wildlife-friendly fixtures for property owners. The list can be found online at MyFWC.com/Conservation by clicking on the “How You Can Conserve,” “Wildlife Lighting,” and then “Certified.”
To report sick, injured, entangled or dead sea turtles, call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at (888) 404-3922, #FWC, *FWC on a cellphone.
Learn more about Florida’s sea turtles at MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle.
Published May 01, 2019
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