With sea turtle nesting season underway, Sarasota County staff reminding the public of steps to take to help hatchlings survive

Keeping light out of sight the primary concern

A sea turtle nest has been marked with yellow caution tape. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Sea turtle nesting season officially starts May 1, “with Sarasota County beaches playing host to the largest population of nesting sea turtles on the Gulf Coast of Florida,” averaging more than 200 nests per mile, Sarasota County staff is reminding the public.

“Unfortunately, only one out of every 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood,” a news release points out. “Most die from predators, and both the exhaustion and starvation caused by disorientingly bright, artificial lights,” the release adds.

“To help those hatchling survive, residents are urged to keep light out of sight,” the release says, and they are asked to remove unused beach furniture and coastal structures through the end of the nesting period, which is Oct. 31.

Sarasota County Wildlife Specialist Jaclyn Irwin offers ways 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.
  • While at the beach for essential activities, avoid areas identified as nesting sites.
  • “Reduce use of flashlights on the beach at night.”
  • Enjoy recreation 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.

“We are fortunate here in Sarasota County to play host to such an abundant nesting population,” Irwin said in the release, adding, “Let’s all do our part to help them survive.”

For questions or assistance with adjusting lighting, property owners may reach Sarasota County’s Sea Turtle Protection Program by calling 941-861-5000 or visiting scgov.net and entering the keyword “wildlife.”

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