The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding beachgoers they can help protect the nesting sea turtle by practicing some simple tips.
Each year, thousands of sea turtles nest on Florida’s beaches. Because our state is so important to these special animals, beachgoers can help keep our beaches clean and dark so sea turtles nest successfully. Everyone benefits from clean beaches and, since most of Florida’s sea turtles nest at night, it is important to keep our beaches dark because bright lights can disorient nesting turtles.
Stash the trash! Obstacles on the beach can prevent sea turtles from nesting as they crawl from the water, across the sand, to lay their eggs. They can also prevent sea turtle hatchlings from reaching the water once they emerge from their nests. Beachgoers can help sea turtles by properly disposing of all trash, filling in holes in the sand, and putting away boats, beach toys and furniture. Fishing line can be deadly to sea turtles and other wildlife, so be sure to dispose of it properly. To find a monofilament recycling station near you, visit mrrp.myfwc.com.
Lights out! Bright lighting can misdirect and disturb nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings, leading them away from the ocean and toward potential danger, so beachgoers should avoid using flashlights or cellphones on the beach at night. Anyone living along or visiting Florida beaches can do their part by turning out lights or closing curtains after dark to ensure nesting turtles are not disturbed as they come ashore and hatchlings will not become disoriented when they emerge from their nests. If lighting could still be visible from the beach, be sure it is long, low and shielded.
“As beachgoers, we can all do our part to help sea turtles survive,” said Dr. Robbin Trindell, who heads the FWC’s sea turtle management program. “By keeping beaches dark and clearing the way at the end of the day, we can help ensure that these amazing animals keep returning to our beautiful state.”
Other ways to help sea turtles include reporting those that are sick, injured, entangled or dead to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
Common Sea Turtles in the Florida Keys
Five species of endangered sea turtles are found throughout the marine waters of the Florida Keys, including the hawksbill, green turtle, Kemp’s Ridley, loggerhead, and leatherback.
Male sea turtles spend their entire lives in the ocean. Adult females do return to beaches on land to lay their eggs. They often migrate long distances between the areas where they feed and where they nest.
The leatherback is the largest turtle and the largest living reptile in the world. Mature males and females can be as long as six and a half feet and weigh almost 2,000 pounds. The leatherback is the only sea turtle that lacks a hard, bony shell. Of sea turtles with hard shells, green turtles are the largest, with adults possibly growing to more than three feet long and weighing 300-350 pounds.
Sea Turtle Conservation and Management
Since 1977, NOAA Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. FWS) have shared jurisdiction for recovery and conservation of sea turtles listed under the ESA. We lead the conservation and recovery of sea turtles in the marine environment U.S. FWS has the lead for the conservation and recovery of sea turtles on nesting beaches. Our work includes:
Developing plans to direct research and management efforts for sea turtle recovery
Reducing sea turtle bycatch in U.S. commercial fisheries
Addressing other major threats to sea turtle recovery
Working with other countries to facilitate the global conservation and recovery of sea turtles
Yield to the Locals in The Florida Keys Sea Turtle by KeysTreasures
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