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Baby Turtles Make Their Annual Debut Along the Coast

Click here to watch a short video. A mid-summer's night along a Franklin County shoreline usually means baby sea turtles somewhere between Alligator Point and Apalachicola are making a break for it - climbing free of their buried nests and flipping their way to the surf.

It's sea turtle hatching season along the Gulf Coast. For weeks now, turtle nests have dotted the beaches of St. George Island, Cape St. George, St. Vincent and Alligator Point - deeply buried but highly visible with marked stakes and protective tape to keep the curious at bay. Vigililant turtle volunteers walk the beaches beaches daily watching and waiting. The hatchings usually occur under the cover of darkness - dozens of baby sea turtles break out of their golf-ball size shells, climb to the sand's surface and then begin the treacherous journey to the surfline aided by moonlight that beacons them to the surf.

And there's the rub. Turtle experts are again urging visitors to turn off beachfront lights during these critical summer weeks because if a beachfront home's illumination is brighter than the moon, the babies can become disoriented. Hatchlings that are drawn away from the water by lights are vulnerable to predators or exhaustion.

Visitors interested in learning about sea turtle nesting can attend weekly turtle orientation meetings on August 17, 24 and 31 at 2 pm at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Visitor Center located at 108 Island Drive in Eastpoint. The presentations are hosted by the Sea Turtles at Risk, Inc and the SGI Volunteer Turtlers. For more information, visit the St. George Island Visitor's Center (at the St. George Island Lighthouse Park) to see a turtle display and pick up turtle information.

Posted on Aug 16, 2011 at 2:52 PM

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