Sea turtle nesting season begins
Sea turtle nesting season is underway, and in order to practice superior environmental stewardship, Pinellas County reminds beach residents and visitors to keep conditions safe for sea turtles to thrive.
Females generally nest from early May through August, with turtle eggs typically taking about 60 days to hatch.
Citizens are asked to not pick up hatchlings heading toward the water, shine lights or use flash photography. Hatchlings use starlight and moonlight reflecting off the water to find their way to the sea, and if they become misled by artificial light, they can become disoriented and die. Marine Turtle Permit holders monitor about 26 miles of coastline and report on sea turtle nesting activity. They engage in early morning patrols to locate and mark new nesting sites to prevent human disturbance.
Most Pinellas County beach communities have ordinances prohibiting lighting that casts glare onto the beach during the May 1 to Oct. 31 turtle nesting season. During nesting season, residents and beach visitors should do the following:
Turn off outside lights, draw drapes and avoid using flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
Remove obstacles such as sand castles or sand pits that may impede hatchlings making their way to the shoreline.
Keep the beach clean. Eliminate trash items that may entangle hatchlings and adult turtles.
Do not approach or harass adult turtles as they make their way back to sea. As a threatened species, loggerhead turtles are protected under federal and state law; disturbing them, their nest or hatchlings, or causing disorientation from artificial lights, is illegal.
To report the disturbance of turtles, an unmarked nest, or turtles or hatchlings lost, stranded or wandering in the street, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
By obeying the law and following some simple guidelines, residents and visitors can greatly improve the chances of sea turtle survival.