How to be a Responsible Beach-Goer During Turtle Nesting Season
In recent months, small roped off sections of sand have begun popping up on Florida beaches, signifying the arrival of turtle nesting season. Our beautiful Florida beaches are home to five different species of sea turtle who lay their eggs in the sand between the months of March and October. These same five species are all classified as a threatened species or endangered species. Here’s how you can help keep these precious ocean creatures safe.
See some trash on the beach? Pick it up! When enjoying our beautiful beaches, properly disposing of trash and recyclables can save the lives of sea animals. Whenever you’re at the beach, picking up the trash you see can prevent a sea turtle from eating it. Sea turtles mainly eat jellyfish, so anything that resembles them like balloons, plastic bags, or zip-lock bags are especially important to properly dispose of. Using a reusable bag and reusable zip-lock bags can cut down on the hundreds of bags a single person will use in their life that could potentially end up in the ocean.
Turn off those lights!
Going to the beach at night? No flash photography please! Sea turtles instinctually move in the direction of the ocean. It’s believed that they move towards the brightest part of the beach, which historically has been the open ocean’s horizon. This is how turtle hatchlings are able to find the water immediately after hatching. Light sources from inland can confuse turtle hatchlings and cause them to travel in the wrong direction making them susceptible to being eaten by predators, being run over by cars, or becoming too exhausted to make it to the ocean. If you’re at the beach at night, refrain from using flash photography, flashlights, or fireworks.
Happen to stumble upon hatchlings making their way to the sea? Leave them alone! Refrain from touching any adult turtles on the shore, these are females that are trying to make a nest. If you see turtle tracks, don't disturb them because scientists will use those tracks to determine what species of turtle is in each nest. If you see a turtle is injured or in need, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement.
Our daily decisions can mean life or death for the animals in this world, so a little mindfulness today can create a more equitable tomorrow. Happy nesting season babes!