■ BY SUE ERWIN
As of press time, The Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association reported 49 Caretta caretta (Loggerhead) turtle nests on the island. There were 59 reported false crawls.
An extremely rare Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nest was documented on Little Gasparilla Island on Sunday May 27. Kemps Ridley sea turtles are endangered and most commonly nest in northern Florida. They are the smallest among sea turtles. You can learn more about Kemp’s Ridley turtles at fws.gov/northflorida/seaturtles.
Turtle patrollers have being seeing lots of loose dogs out on the beach lately. Please help protect this very rare species by keeping dogs off the beach or on a leash.
Subtropical Storm Alberto stirred up the water surrounding Boca Grande, and there was a good amount of wind, but fortunately no nests were damaged.
“We have a few nests that were washed over by waves, which may impact their survival but we are hoping for the best,” said Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association Board Member Melissa Csank. “We have also lost a couple of nests due to erosion, but overall, we were very lucky.”
Please remember to take your trash with you when visiting the beach. Patrol members have been picking up large amounts of litter from the beach daily.
Also remember to fill in any holes in the sand. The holes can hinder a nesting sea turtle’s ability to lay her eggs at a safe area on the beach.
All beach furniture should be removed at night.
Turtles may become trapped in furniture and get stuck in holes on the beach.
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 nesting turtles are not disturbed as they come ashore and hatchlings will not become disoriented when they emerge from their nests.
Nesting season lasts through the end of October.
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.
Turtle patrollers help keep the beach clean, flat and turtle friendly among other important duties. They also get out to enjoy our beautiful beach at one of the most beautiful times of the day.
If you’re interested in being part of the turtle patrol program, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or search for the organization on Facebook.