Make your Fourth of July turtle friendly
By Angel Collins
Everyone loves the beach; the beaches are one of the things that brought a lot of us to Florida in the first place I bet. Well, it’s sad to say but the way some of us love our beaches we may be loving them to death. This week’s Fourth of July celebrations likely will leave the beaches littered with literally tons of waste. People leave chairs, coolers, umbrellas, cans, bottles and, sadly, lots of plastic. This can be the start of a not-so-turtle-friendly situation.
Fourth of July also traditionally includes lots of light with fireworks and sparklers and tiki torches, which can be a problem for sea turtles on the beach. Lights out regulations are in effect from May 1 through Oct. 31 on Brevard County beaches, and fireworks are not allowed on area beaches either. Please respect these rules. It doesn’t take much for a mama turtle heading up to nest to see lights or hear loud music or lots of movement and decide to leave the beach without nesting.
Please look for reusable choices for your Fourth of July festivities — and for every day. Reduce single-use plastics as much as possible. Plastic reusable dishes and drinking glasses are better than plastic single-use items that will be discarded right away. Igloo has just come out with what they are calling the world’s first eco-friendly biodegradable cooler. Many people are taking paper lunch bags or other reusable bags to the store to weigh and carry their produce. Do what you can, and if everyone does that, just think of the difference we will make together.
Another tradition to rethink is releasing balloons at celebrations. Why not try bubbles to bring some fun to your holiday party instead?
One of the most important things you can do this Fourth of July is also one of the simplest. This time of year, when mama turtles are nesting and hatchlings are emerging, please make sure the beach is clean, flat and dark. Kids, and sometimes adults, dig huge pits or sandcastles on the beach. These can mean death to a trapped or disoriented turtle. Before leaving the beach, please fill in any holes and knock down sandcastles.
The Sea Turtle Preservation Society is a not-for-profit, all volunteer organization focused on sea turtle conservation. We have volunteer opportunities for members and nonmembers alike. If you would like to learn more, please visit our website to become a member and complete a volunteer application.
Thank you for all you do to help sea turtles survive.