March 1st official kicked off our turtle nesting season in South Florida and we are crazy about these local natives. Join us as we celebrate their return. Here are some ways you can protect our locals.
Protecting Turtles on Our Beach
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding us to do our best to keep our area beaches dark and free of obstacles for these nesting beauties.
For those of us living in close proximity to our beaches, bright artificial lighting be a problem for turtles. The light can lead turtles away from the water as they rely on the natural light for direction. These lights can also disturb nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings.
“Every year, thousands of hatchlings are killed when they become disoriented by lights visible from the beach. Scientists believe that the baby sea turtles instinctively travel towards the brightest horizon, as the dark, tree covered dunes are starkly contrasted with the reflective glow of the ocean. In fact, the hatchlings are so strongly attracted to light that they have been known to walk straight into bonfires left burning on the beach, undeterred by the heat of the flames. “, says Gumbo Limbo.
Turn Off Those Lights
If you are heading to the beach at night, avoid using flashlights or cellphones. If you live on the beach, turning out lights or closing curtains after dark will help ensure that nesting turtles are not disturbed as they come ashore and that hatchlings will not become disoriented when they emerge from their nests. We can also help by clearing away beach furniture and filling in holes in the sand before we leave the beach. Often a female turtle will emerge from the water but will be frightened back by lights, noise, obstacles or movement before she can begin to lay her eggs.
“Keeping Florida’s beaches dark and uncluttered at night can help protect sea turtles that return to nest on our beaches,” said Dr. Robbin Trindell, who heads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) sea turtle management program. “Many agency partners, such as nature centers, marine turtle permit holders and local governments, contribute greatly to sea turtle conservation. But caring beachgoers can also make a significant difference in helping nesting and hatchling sea turtles survive.”
You can also help sea turtles by properly disposing fishing line to avoid entanglements.
If you find a dead, sick, or injured sea turtle, please call FWC’s 24-hour Wildlife Alert Number at 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922)
Please be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What is the exact location of the animal?
- Is the turtle alive or dead?
- What is the approximate size of the turtle?
- Is the turtle marked with spray paint? (This may indicate that the turtle has been previously documented.)
- What is the location of the closest access point to the turtle?
Way We Can Give More to Help Turtles
Buy a License Plate
The state of Florida license plate called “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” contributes to sea turtle research, rescue and conservation efforts. These license plates can be purchased at Buyaplate.com You may also donate $5 and receive an FWC sea turtle decal.
Toast to Turtles
This Sunday, A Toast to Turtles will take place 3-6 p.m. at LauderAle, 3305 SE 14th Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. For the occasion, LauderAle will tap a sea turtle-inspired beer, Captain’s Lager, an easy-drinking blonde ale named after Captain, a juvenile green sea turtle and a permanent resident of NSU’s oceanfront Marine Environmental Education Center in Hollywood. Admission is free, and beer is $1 off for those donating $5 to the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program. Call 954-653-9711 or go to LauderAle.co and the Facebook event page.
Tunes for Turtles
Tortuga Music Festival is now offering a limited number of single-day passes instead of a three-day ticket package at tortugamusicfestival.com/passes. The three-day festival, held on Fort Lauderdale Beach from April 6 to 8, will feature Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Eric Church, Brothers Osborne, Cheap Trick, Dan + Shay, Kip Moore, Snoop Dogg, Shaggy and Dwight Yoakam. Money from the Tortuga festival will go to help protect the sea turtles who nest annually along South Florida’s Atlantic seaboard. The event will feature a Conservation Village with games, interactive touch tanks, cooking exhibitions, the latest ocean technology and more. For more information on the festival, visit tortugamusicfestival.com.
Adopt a Turtle
Consider adopting a sea turtle at Gumbo Limbo. Sea turtle adoption proceeds are directed to conservation or rehabilitation programs that help sea turtles. You can adopt a hatchling for just $25 or a resident turtle for $50. Head to Gumbo Limbo’s website for more information.
Run for Conservation
Participate in the Gumbo Limbo 10k Race and 1 mile Fun Run on Sunday, April 8th at Spanish River Park. The race will begin at 7:15am. To register, click here. Race proceeds will benefit Gumbo Limbo’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation and Conservation programs.
What are the average costs to protect our sea turtles?
Typically these are some of the costs associated with protecting sea turtles on a daily basis:
$1 Feeds a hatchling for a day.
$5 Feeds a small turtle for a day.
$5 Feeds 100 hatchlings for the day
$10 Feeds a large turtle for a day.
$15 Daily maintenance for hatchling swimmer tanks.
$25 Supplies for marking 100 nests on the beach
$50 Screens and pepper to deter predators from nests.
$25 Provides medication for a small turtle for a day.
$50 Provides medications for a large turtle for a day.
$100 Provides diagnostic testing for 1 turtle.
$250 Fibropapilloma tumor removal surgery.
$500 Care for a typical patient for its entire stay.
And more. Unfortunately, Turtle care is expensive, but necessary to protect these amazing locals. Turtle conservation facilities must also purchase pieces of surgical and medical equipment that the staff needs to help take care of sea turtles and return them to health and cover the general expenses of the facility and staff. Consider doing what you can to help.