Turtle hatchlings continue to defeat red tide

Turtle hatchlings continue to defeat red tide

■ BY SUE ERWIN

Green sea turtle nesting is happening later into the season than usual, but Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association volunteers are hopeful there are still a few more new nests before the season officially closes on October 31.

As of September 14, the Association reported 725 Caretta caretta (loggerhead) turtle nests on the island. There were 569 reported false crawls (when a turtle comes up onto the beach but does not lay a nest). Five Chelonia mydas (green) turtle nests have been reported so far this year.

If you’re on the beach and see what you think is a red tide-intoxicated baby sea turtle, the best thing to do in that situation is to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hotline (888) 404-FWCC and report it. FWC will then contact the BGSTA to pick it up. This allows FWC to track and document every element of the stranding, and they will work with the rehabilitation agencies to get the hatchling to the place that is most appropriate. It is not advised that you touch a hatchling, but if you think it is in distress, gently place it in a bucket with some damp sand, cover it with a towel, and wait for a volunteer to pick it up.

Patrol members would like to remind residents to be mindful that if you see spray paint on a deceased sea turtle’s shell or head, the turtle has already been documented, so there is no need to call the organization again.

The BGSTA is looking for some kindhearted folks who live locally, have a boat and might be interested in transporting stranded turtles to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) facility on Sanibel Island.

If you come across a sea turtle that is stranded or dead, or if you see someone disturbing a nest or turtle, call the FWC at (888) 404-FWCC.