Lights out for nesting season, learn your types of turtles

May 24, 2019
By Marcy Shortuse

■ BY SUE ERWIN
The Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association would like to remind everyone that sea turtle nesting season officially began on May 1, and it’s more important than ever to remember to cover up holes and knock down sand castles when visiting the beach, and dispose of any trash properly.
So far, 39 nests have been documented by patrol volunteers, and 27 false crawls have been reported. A false crawl occurs when a turtle makes its way onto the beach but doesn’t produce a nest.
Due to the beach renourishment project, special care will be taken to ensure that any nests in the area are relocated.
“We are being assisted by Don Pedro Island’s permit holder, Brenda Bossman, who has significant experience in relocations, which are quite a delicate and fragile process, where a nest is taken apart egg by egg and placed in a bucket,” said Melissa Csank, BGSTA board member. “Then a new egg chamber is built farther down the beach, where it will not be impacted by the relocation.”
The eggs are then placed in the new chamber in exactly the sequence in which they were found in the original nest. During this process, the eggs cannot be rotated or turned from the original position they were found in. The information is then sent to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. These data help track the health and activities of the species.
Shield all point sources of light visible from the beach, and remove all beach furniture and equipment from the beach at night. Also be sure to cover up any holes that are dug on the beach so hatchings don’t fall in and get trapped, and flatten sandcastles, because they could hinder the females as they search for a good place to make their nest.
If you see a stranded or dead manatee anywhere in state waters or a stranded or dead sea turtle, dolphin or whale, call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at (888) 404-FWCC (3922).
Only one in 1,000 baby loggerhead sea turtles survives to adulthood, but with your help, the number that could thrive could drastically improve.
The hatchlings are about the size of a ping-pong ball, and if they are able to survive land predators like bobcats and coyotes, they feed on small organisms living in seagrasses called sargassum, where they spend their early developmental years.
Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) were listed under the Endangered Species Act as threated in 1978. Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are considered threatened, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
You can help the sea turtles get safely to the water.
Leatherback sea turtles are an endangered species found mainly in the tropical and temperate Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. In Florida, leatherbacks mainly nest on the Atlantic coast but also inhabit the Gulf of Mexico.
If you see a stranded or dead manatee anywhere in state waters or a stranded or dead sea turtle, dolphin or whale, call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at (888) 404-FWCC (3922).