(Photo used courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)
SARASOTA COUNTY – As summer approaches and trips to the beach become more frequent, Sarasota County is reminding all visitors and residents to keep light out of sight during sea turtle nesting season.
Beginning May 1, Sarasota County beaches play host to the largest population of nesting sea turtles on the Gulf Coast of Florida; over 200 nests per mile.
The biggest threats to sea turtle survival are often man-made: artificial lighting, beach furniture, coastal structures and indgestible plastic.
Only one out of every 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood, as each year thousands of hatchlings die from predation, exhaustion and starvation due to the disorientation caused by bright, artificial lights.
Sarasota County regulates beachfront lighting and storage of recreational items such as beach furniture. Activities disruptive to sea turtles are prohibited during nesting season, from May 1 through Oct. 31.
Here are some ways you can help sea turtles beat the odds:
Each night, remove all furniture and recreational items from the beach and store them in an area landward of the beach and dunes.
Properly dispose of trash. Sea turtles ingest plastic bags and garbage attracts predators that eat turtle eggs.
Knock down sand sculptures and fill in holes before you leave the beach so turtles have direct access into and out of the water. A turtle that falls into a hole cannot get out.
Reduce use of flashlights on the beach at night.
Recreate in locations away from marked nesting areas.
Property owners must either extinguish or shield lights visible from the beach, or replace white incandescent, fluorescent and high-intensity lighting with amber or red light-emitting diodes (LED) or low-pressure sodium vapor (LPS) fixtures.
Have questions or need assistance with adjusting the lighting on your property? Contact the Sea Turtle Protection Program at 941-861-5000 or visit scgov.net and enter the keyword “wildlife.”
To report an injured or dead sea turtle, contact the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-FWCC (3922).