FWC: Keep beaches dark, clean for sea turtles
Florida beaches are a go-to destination for summer fun – and for sea turtles, they are a go-to destination for laying eggs. It is sea turtle nesting season once again and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding beach-goers to take precautions that can help protect the federally threatened and endangered marine reptiles.
“The actions we take when visiting the beach can make a big difference for sea turtles,” Dr. Robbin Trindell, who heads the FWC’s sea turtle management program, said. “By keeping beaches dark and clearing the way at the end of the day, we can help ensure that these amazing animals are here for future generations to enjoy.”
Most sea turtles in Florida nest at night and keeping beaches dark will help ensure their nesting success. Bright artificial lighting can misdirect and disturb nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings, leading them away from the ocean and toward potential danger, so beach-goers should avoid using flashlights or cellphones at night.
For beachfront property owners and those visiting beachfront properties, turning out lights or closing curtains after dark will ensure nesting turtles are not disturbed as they come ashore and hatchlings will not become disoriented when they emerge from their nests. If lighting is still visible from the beach, be sure it is long, low and shielded.
It is also important to make sure that sea turtles have a clear path to and from the ocean. Before you leave the beach, you can help by properly disposing of all trash, filling in holes in the sand, and putting away boats, beach toys and furniture. If these obstacles are left behind, turtles can become trapped.
Lee County has an ordinance in place for Captiva requiring the removal of beach furniture, equipment and related items between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. from May through October for turtle nesting season.
If your trip to the beach includes fishing, you can help beach wildlife by making sure to properly dispose of your line. Discarded line can be deadly to sea turtles, shorebirds and other animals.
To find a monofilament recycling station, visit mindyourline.org/recycling-stations.
To report a turtle nest or a sick or injured turtle, contact the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Sea Turtle Hotline at 978-728-3663 (978-SAVE-ONE). For more information, visit www.sccf.org.
Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission