Sea Turtle Nesting Season is Here Early, First Nests Found on Local Beaches
Help hatchlings beat the odds during sea turtle nesting season
Sarasota County beaches are home to the largest population of nesting sea turtles on Florida's Gulf Coast from May 1 through Oct. 31.. In Fact the first nest of the season, has already been spotted on Longboat Key, a little early in the season.
Residents and visitors can help sea turtles during nesting season by reducing light pollution at night and eliminating obstacles along beaches.
The Sarasota County Marine Turtle Protection Ordinance (MTPO), adopted in 1997, outlines the requirements to help sea turtles beat the odds by eliminating white light visible from the beach and nesting obstacles. Residents and visitors can accomplish this by using long-wavelength bulbs such as red or amber LEDs with shielded fixtures, and by removing beach furniture and recreational items nightly.
“Sarasota County averages more than 200 sea turtle nests per mile along coastal shorelines, but only one out of every 1,000 hatchlings survive to adulthood,” said UF/IFAS Marine and Coastal Sea Grant Agent Armando Ubeda.
Ubeda added that while most hatchlings die from predators, the majority die from exhaustion or starvation caused by disorienting bright, artificial lights steering them away from the water.
Jaclyn Irwin, Sarasota County wildlife specialist, also added that in addition to using appropriate lighting and removing recreational items, avoiding the use of flashlights, knocking down sandcastles, filling in holes, and taking belongings and trash with you are great ways to enhance sea turtle nesting habitat.
Community members are also reminded not to disturb sea turtles or their nests and can report injured or distressed sea turtles to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
To learn more about sea turtles contact UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County at 941-861-9900 or visit scgov.net (keywords sea turtle lighting guide).