As the season for sea turtles to lay eggs approaches, please remember that the best thing you can do for the turtles is to not disturb them.
Sea turtles must come ashore to lay their eggs. This time of year marks the beginning of the season when turtles come up on the beaches of Florida to lay their eggs. While watching them is acceptable, you should understand some basic guidelines to ensure the turtles' safety and success. Dr. Robbin Trindell, who leads the FWC's sea turtle management program has the following suggestions:
Take care when you're on a Florida beach at night and do not disturb the nesting sea turtles. People can help save threatened and endangered sea turtles by giving them enough space and privacy to safely and successfully lay their eggs. It's as simple as keeping your distance and avoiding shining lights or taking flash photos of the nesting sea turtles.
Primarily Florida has green, leatherback, and loggerhead sea turtles. Leatherbacks are the largest turtles in the world with the largest verified specimen coming in at over 1,400 pounds.
Last year was a good year for the loggerheads with 86,870 nests recorded around the state of Florida. Trindell says that "conservation actions of Floridians and visitors to the state may have contributed to the general upward trend in sea turtle nest numbers in recent years."
There are several specific things you can do to help protect sea turtles.
- Keep a good distance as you should do with all wildlife.
- Remove anything that could inhibit turtle movement from the beach at night including chairs, canopies, boats and other items.
- Avoid using lights on and near the beach. Hatchlings naturally head for the brightest light which is the ocean in a natural setting. Artificial lights can make them turn the wrong direction.
- Use red LED lights if you need a light on the beach and keep your cellphone screens on dark mode.
- Avoid using flash photography.
- Fill in holes that people dug during the day so turtles don't fall in and get stuck.
- Pick up and correctly dispose of any fishing line on the beach so turtles do not get entangled in it.
- Please report any sick, injured, or dead sea turtles that you come across to FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline, 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC).
If you live in Florida and want to contribute towards helping the sea turtles, then consider purchasing the "Helping Sea Turtles Survive" license tag at BuyaPlate.com. The proceeds go to support research about sea turtles, rescue and rehabilitation efforts, and conservation efforts aimed at helping sea turtles. You can also help by donating $5 for a FWC sea turtle decal. For decals or to learn more about sea turtles, go to MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle.