I Spy A Sea Turtle
By Ashley Anderson
Sea turtle season is in full swing. Each year for a few short months, sea turtles share our beaches to produce a new generation of sea turtles. Each nest means new baby sea turtles emerge to bring great joy and excitement. How beachgoers handle this excitement may influence the success of future nesting seasons in Florida.
Do Not Disturb Sea Turtles
During the summer months, it is not an uncommon sight to encounter a nesting mother on a Brevard County beach. How should we as individuals respond when encountering such a sight? The best way to help a nesting mother is to give her plenty of space to lay her eggs. Nesting mothers have lots of work to do before returning to the ocean, so be sure to make the process easier on her by keeping out of her way and maintaining a quiet and dark space for her to nest. Never approach or touch a nesting sea turtle. Keep lights off, stay back, and be quiet. If she is disturbed, she may return to the ocean without laying eggs, or may leave before covering her nest completely.
It’s important to remember that sea turtles have been around for more than a 100 million years. Some nesting turtles may be older than the beachgoers who encounter them. Understanding how long sea turtles have been around reminds us that these turtles know what they are doing and how they want to do it.
If you see a sea turtle in distress, please report it to a sea turtle emergency hotline. Such cases are not common, but beachgoers may see situations like a sea turtle with visible injuries or lethargy, or unusual cases like daytime nesting or disoriented adults or hatchlings. Please remember that sea turtles are a protected species, so the best way to help is to keep your distance from the animal and get assistance from authorized, trained personnel.
Hands Off Hatchlings
Should you stumble upon the beautiful sight of sea turtles hatching from their nest, the same guidelines as those for a nesting mother apply on how to view the event safely. Keep a distance between you and the hatchlings. Stay out of their path to the ocean. Remember that hatchlings imprint on the beaches where they hatch, so attempting to pick the hatchlings up will interfere with this natural process.
Keep hands off hatchlings during a nest emergence – and any other time. Allow hatchlings to crawl on their own to the ocean. Do not remove hatchlings or eggs from a nest.
After all the turtles have made it safely to the sea to begin their new journey, be sure to look around carefully. When leaving the area, make sure you step slowly and carefully to avoid stepping on any stragglers from the nest.
Call For Help
Know the numbers to call for local sea turtle emergencies.
In Brevard County, Sea Turtle Preservation Society emergency hotline: (321)-206-0646
Statewide, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC): (888)-404-3922
The Future of Nesting is Bright
We have the privilege to live on the coast of Florida. Maintaining healthy beaches and following nesting season guidelines helps increase the success of nesting seasons. If we all do our part and respect these ancient creatures, we will have many more successful nesting seasons to look forward to in the years to come.