If you’re planning a summer trip with your family this season and are going to the beach, it’s important to keep safety a priority not only for yourselves and your family, but also for the wildlife that inhabits the area. May 1st begins the endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle nesting season. The season runs from May 1st through October 31st. During this time, mother sea turtles come ashore to bury their eggs in a safe location on high ground. About 60 days later, baby sea turtles hatch, scurry from their nest, journey to the water’s edge and take their very first plunge into the Gulf of Mexico. Below is a list of things to do during this time to ensure their safety and successful departure:
- Lights Out!
Baby hatchlings use the light of the moon to help guide them to the water. Artificial lighting from beach homes can turn them away from the water and towards the light, so it is very important that we turn the exterior and unused interior lights off at night.
- Leave No Trace
Franklin County, Florida has a “leave no trace” ordinance prohibiting items being left on the beach overnight. It is important to pick up all garbage, tents, umbrellas, beach chairs and beach toys so there are no obstructions keeping mother turtles from laying their eggs in a safe area or preventing hatchlings from reaching the Gulf.
- Watch Out!
Be careful, look out for sea turtle nesting areas and do not disturb them. If you see a nesting turtle or hatchlings, do not touch or bother them. It is important not to disturb their natural processes. You can move objects obstructing them from reaching the water but do not pick them up or hold them.
- Limit Campfires and Fireworks
Campfires and fireworks can be a deterrent to nesting sea turtles, hindering them from laying their eggs in a safe place, which leaves the eggs more vulnerable to predators. It can also prevent the baby sea turtles from going to the Gulf by turning them away from the water and towards the light.
You can still have tons of fun on our beaches, while protecting the endangered sea turtles. Just follow these few steps and you’ll be having tons of fun on the beautiful beaches of Florida’s Forgotten Coast!