How To Navigate Through Sea Turtle Nesting Season in Sarasota
Are you planning your Sarasota vacation for the summer? If your explorations are scheduled anytime before October 31st, there are some things you need to know about sea turtle nesting season! Sarasota County is a nesting ground for the highest amount loggerhead turtles in the Gulf.
Sarasota is the natural habitat to these elegant sea creatures, so here are some things to remember on your vacation:
Help The Hatchlings
Sarasota’s sea turtle population is dependant on visitors and residents working together to make the hatchlings journey as safe as possible. If you are planning your trip to Sarasota, this means keeping some tips in mind on the waterfront. When setting up your beach day site, be sure to give nesting sites a wide berth. These are easy to spot as the sites are marked by wooden stakes and bright caution tape. If you are lucky enough to happen upon some hatchings coming out of their shell, watch from far away! Adults that are nesting can be spooked away easily, so it’s always best to give them space. Since sea turtles are a protected species, it is illegal to come in contact or interact with them at all.
When taking photos, be sure your flash is off, as the light can disorient and scare turtles.
When your day of fun in the sun is winding down, be sure to clear away all beach furniture, toys or trash. You also want to fill any holes that were dug and knock down sandcastles to make the hatchlings route to the water as smooth as possible.
Another very important tip to keep in mind is that darkness is paramount for baby sea turtles! Hatchlings survival rates depends on how quickly they get into the water, and they find the sea by following the brightest direction, which typically will be the open night sky over the water. That means: keep off all flashlights, fishing lamps, outdoor lights, and close your drapes if you are staying on the beachfront. Any artificial light on or near the beach can disrupt turtles’ natural instincts and make their journey to the water much longer, which is dangerous for newborn turtles. To keep the beach free of artificial light, dim your cellphone or ideally keep it off altogether. If you must pull your cellphone out, try to shield your screen with your hand.
What To Do For Vulnerable Sea Turtles
Since it is illegal to interact with sea turtles, it’s important to have a few numbers on hand to contact in the case of an injured or stranded sea turtle. Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations can be contacted at 941-988-0212 and instruct on how to assist. If you find a stranded hatchling or one that is heading away from it’s natural migration pattern, toward the Gulf, call Mote’s Conservation Program at 941-388-4331. It’s imperative you call first and get professional advice on what action to take! Sea turtles are sensitive creatures and require special care.
How To Safely Survey Sea Turtles
For a unique sea turtle spotting expedition, take a trip out to Longboat Key for a turtle walk lead by Longboat Key Turtle Watch. This free exploration meets at 4795 Gulf of Mexico Drive and runs Saturdays in June and July., starting at 6:45 a.m. for the early birds. No reservation is needed, just show up on time and ready to see some turtles!