With sea turtle nesting season approaching, Sarasota County staff urging public to ‘keep light out of sight’

Other steps encouraged to help hatchlings survive

A Mote Marine volunteer holds a newly hatched sea turtle. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

As Sarasota County beaches play host to the largest population of nesting sea turtles on Florida’s Gulf Coast from May 1 through Oct. 31 each year, residents are urged to keep light out of sight and store unused beach furniture and coastal structures during that time to help baby sea turtles survive.

Although an average of more than 200 sea turtle nests has been documented per mile along Sarasota County’s coastline, only one out of every 1,000 hatchlings survives to adulthood, a county news release points out. Most hatchlings are killed by predators, while others succumb to “the exhaustion and starvation caused by disorienting bright, artificial lights,” the release adds.

This is a section of a county fact sheet designed to help nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The following are steps to 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.”
  • Enjoy recreation in locations away from marked nesting areas.
  • “Property owners must either extinguish all white lights visible from the beach or replace them with amber or red light-emitting diodes (LED) or low-pressure sodium vapor (LPS) bulbs and pair them with shielded fixtures.”

For questions or assistance with adjusting the lighting on property, contact Sarasota County’s Sea Turtle Protection Program at 941-861-5000 or visit scgov.net (keywords sea turtle lighting guide).

To report an injured or dead sea turtle, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Additional information is available by calling the county Contact Center at 861-5000.