Loggerhead sea turtles started laying eggs this year before the official nesting season began May 1, according to Mote Marine Turtle Patrol volunteers.
While these magnificent marine reptiles are a threatened species, receiving protection under national and international laws, they face many threats. This time of year, with the July Fourth holiday approaching and the annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival set to kick off June 29, humans pose their greatest threats.
Grand Prix race organizers said they will have sealife-spotting helicopters in the air during the races on June 30 and July 1. The event launched a Share the Beach program urging race spectators to be mindful of nesting turtles and black skimmers. Volunteers from the sponsoring charity will conduct a beach cleanup after the races.
Here at Allard PPC, we want to urge everyone to protect and enjoy the beaches by raising awareness of the annual sea turtle nesting season. Be a good neighbor for visiting female turtles, who emerge from the water every two weeks to lay four clutches containing 100 to 120 eggs each, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
Turtle nesting season peaks in June. Remember to dim your lights if you live near the beaches, because light can disorient hatchlings. Remove furniture from the beach. Reduce use of plastics near the beaches, and pack out all of your trash on a beach outing. Vow to pick up and dispose of at least 3 extra pieces of plastics on every beach visit.
Consider donating to Wounded Nature — Working Veterans who clean up beaches to make them safer for sea turtles and other wildlife.
Learn more about turtles by attending one of the Longboat Key Turtle Watch walks offered at 6:45 a.m. every Saturday at the public beach access, 4795 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Do’s and Don’ts
Here are tips from Mote Marine:
DO stay away from sea turtle nests marked with yellow stakes and tape, and seabird nesting zones that are bounded by ropes.
DO remain quiet and observe from a distance if you encounter a nesting sea turtle or hatchlings.
DO shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October.
DO close drapes after dark and stack beach furniture at the dune line or, ideally, remove it from the beach
DO fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water.
DON’T approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles.
DON’T use flashlights, head lamps or fishing lamps on the beach.
DON’T encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.
DON’T use fireworks on the beach.
DON’T walk dogs on any Sarasota County beach other than Brohard Paw Park in Venice. There, dogs must be leashed or under voice control, according to county ordinances.
Also from Mote:
If you see a stranded or dead dolphin, whale or sea turtle in Manatee County, call Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program, a 24-hour response service, at 941-988-0212.
If you see a stranded or dead manatee anywhere in state waters or a stranded or dead dolphin, whale or sea turtle outside of Sarasota or Manatee counties, call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-3922 or cal #FWC or *FWC. myfwcc.com
Fast facts about loggerheads:
- Sarasota County has the highest density of loggerhead nests on the Gulf of Mexico.
- In 2017, 4,424 loggerhead nests were logged on 35 miles of beaches from Longboat Key to Venice. A total of 79 endangered green turtle nests were also found.
- In 2016, 4,578 loggerhead nests were logged in Sarasota County.
Remember that all turtles are not marine animals. The threatened gopher tortoise is a land reptile that lives in burrows. If you see one crawling about on land, do not place it in the water.
Watch this inspirational but heartbreaking video by international star Novo Amor.
Allard PPC has worked for decades to protect and preserve our ocean playground, and we hope you’ll join us — for yourself and for future generations.
If you ever have any questions about our efforts toward conservation and sustainability or you want to learn how we can help your business grow through our strategic marketing efforts, please contact us.