Sea Turtle nesting season has officially begun here in Southwest Florida, and earlier than ever. Very soon, hundreds of female sea turtles will come to our beaches to build their nests and lay their eggs. The season usually starts in May and runs through October, but early signs of nesting caused scientists to move the start date back to April 15th this year. Sanibel and Captiva saw record numbers of sea turtle nests last year, and we hope 2016 will be a successful year for sea turtles as well. Let’s do what we can to provide safe nesting habitat and keep this trend going!
Here are a few ways you can help protect these gentle giants:
- Turn your lights out at night. Sea turtle hatchlings follow the light of the moon toward the ocean and can become confused by the bright lights around and inside your home. Send the hatchlings in the right direction by keeping your outdoor lights off and curtains closed after dark.
- If you’re on the beach at night, avoid using flashlights and never disrupt a nesting turtle. Keep your distance and don’t use flash photography if you encounter a nesting turtle on the beach.
- Knock down any sand castles and fill in any holes on the beach before you go home. The fewer hurdles sea turtles encounter, the better.
- Always dispose of your fishing line and gear properly. This helps not just sea turtles, but other marine life as well. Look for the monofilament recycling tubes around the island to dispose of your line properly, or drop it off at the Bait Box.
- Leave no trace. Make sure that whatever you bring to beach leaves the beach with you. If you see trash that isn’t yours, go ahead and pick it up. The ocean will thank you!