WATCH OUT FOR WASHBACKS!
The east coast of Florida is getting a lot of sargassum sea weed washing up on the beaches. This means that we’re also getting post-hatchlings sea turtles washing in with sargassum as well. (A post-hatchling sea turtle is a hatchling that has successfully exited the nest and swam out to the sargassum line about 20-25 miles off shore.) These little guys blend in with perfectly with the sargassum and makes them hard to spot.
Please do not go out looking for the post-hatchling washbacks. Rest assured that STPS has trained personnel on the beaches as a part of STERP (Sea Turtle Emergency Response Program) which is permitted by FWC. However, if you happen to find hatchlings and post-hatchlings on the beach, please use the following protocols.
- DO NOT put the hatchling or post-hatchling back into the ocean. They do not have enough energy to swim back to the sargassum line.
- DO NOT put the hatchling in water or air conditioning. This could further injure or kill the sea turtle.
- Put the hatchling or post-hatching in a container on a damp towel or paper towel. NO water, sea weed or sand in the container, please. Cover with a cloth.
- Call STPS Emergency Hotline at 321-206-0646 and follow the instructions that you will be given. You may also call the Turtle House at 321-676-1701. The Turtle House is located at 111 S. Miramar in Indialantic with operating hours 11am – 5pm Monday through Saturday.
If you happen to find an exposed nest, please DO NOT touch the eggs and follow these steps:
- Cover with sand, if possible.
- Call the Emergency Hotline at 321-206-0646
- DO NOT attempt to touch or collect the eggs yourself. Disturbing the nest or eggs could kill the hatchlings.
|A washback in the sargassum sea weed. Photo credit to The Sea Turtle Hospital at UF Whitney Lab