■ BY SUE ERWIN
As of press time, The Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association reported eight turtle nests on the island – all loggerheads.
The season has been a bit slow so far, likely due to cooler temperatures recently, but that is changing quickly.
“In 2017 at this same time, we had 27 nests on the island, and 15 recorded false crawls,” said BGSTA Board Member Mel Csank. “The year before that, there were 10 nests and five false crawls.”
Csank said this variation is normal and nothing to be concerned about.
“We expect things to pick up shortly. In the meantime, we’ve been training a lot of new volunteers and are in the process of distributing material to the real estate rental businesses on the island.”
The materials are designed to raise awareness of sea turtle nesting on the island, and to educate about the importance of filling in sand pits, keeping the beach clean and free of beach chairs, and making sure it is dark at night.
Nesting season lasts through the end of October.
Bright lighting can misdirect and disturb nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings, so beachgoers should avoid using flashlights or cellphones at night. Turning out lights or closing curtains and shades in buildings along the beach after dark will ensure that nesting turtles are not disturbed as they come ashore and hatchlings will not become disoriented when they emerge from their nests. Clearing away beach furniture at the end of the day and filling in holes in the sand are also important, because turtles can become trapped in furniture or in holes on the beach.
Florida’s beachfront residents and visitors taking these actions will help conserve the loggerhead, leatherback and green sea turtles that nest on the state’s coastlines.
Wherever you are, other ways to help sea turtles include properly disposing of fishing line to avoid entanglements and reporting those that are sick, injured, entangled or dead to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cellphone.
Go to MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle for more information on Florida’s sea turtles, and click on “Research,” then “Nesting” for more data on sea turtle nesting.
If you’re interested in being part of the turtle patrol program, please send an email to email@example.com.