Sea Turtle Nesting Season: Conservation Tips
Today is a very special day here in Jacksonville Beach as it marks the start of sea turtle nesting season! This morning I happily awoke to my alarm at 5:30 am and scrambled down to the beach to meet up with my fellow volunteers for orientation. I was one of the lucky few that scored a coveted spot on the team and am very excited to spend my Monday mornings patrolling the beach for turtle tracks!
My love for sea turtles began a few years ago when I went to the Seychelles islands on a marine conservation expedition. During my time in the Indian Ocean, I had daily underwater encounters with both hawksbill and green turtles whose space I shared as I was surveying the coral reefs they call home. We would also patrol the surrounding beaches in search of tracks, nests and hatchlings and monitor the ones we found.
The main species found here in Northeast Florida are predominantly loggerheads followed by green and leatherback turtles. The season starts May 1 and goes through the end of October.
If you live near a beach that is known for sea turtle nests or visit one on vacation, here are some general guidelines you should follow:
- Do not touch or disturb nesting turtles or emerging hatchlings. In Florida, it is against the law to touch a sea turtle.
- Do not use flashlights or flash photography on the beaches at night, especially if you see a turtle. Light confuses and disorients hatchlings and can cause them to wind up in dangerous places like the street, sewer drains, etc.
- Do not have beach bonfires.
- Reduce and restrict beachfront lighting.
- Avoid the beaches at night when turtles come to lay their eggs.
- Keep dogs on a leash so you can keep them clear of turtles, nests and hatchlings.
To find out more about turtles, conservation and how you can help protect and preserve these wonderful creatures, read here and check out these great resources listed below. Also, you can adopt a nest through Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol and if you Like their Facebook page you will be entered to win some fun turtle trinkets!