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Turtle season starts with pair of nests

MELISSA REID
Associate Publisher
mreid@lbknews.com

Only one sea turtle nest can be the first of the season, and that was found by Longboat Key Turtle Watch volunteers this week at the 6600 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive near the Ohana home. Turtle Watch volunteers also found the second turtle nest this week near the 6300 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive.

With the nesting season underway, Mote Marine and Longboat Key Turtle Watch volunteers want Longboat Key residents to be aware of the new ordinance that was passed in July of last year, which not only restricts lighting outside but also includes lighting inside the home that may shine onto the beach, as well as beach furniture that must be brought back away from the beach.

The reason for the more stringent ordinance was due to the town having the highest number of sea turtle disorientations in the area according to Mote Marine, and lack of an effort to change the ordinance would result in the inability to receive permits for any future beach renourishment projects.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) expressed concern about the high disorientation numbers during permitting of last year’s three beach renourishment projects that took  place during turtle nesting season.

Local nesting activity is monitored by Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol, a group of Mote staff and more than 300 volunteers who document turtle tracks each day during nesting season. Mote has monitored sea turtle nesting from Longboat Key through Venice for 35 years.

All sea turtle species are considered threatened or endangered under state and federal laws.

Sea turtle hatchlings and their mothers use dim natural light to find the sea, and they can become disoriented by artificial light. Sea turtles can also become trapped in holes or by beach furniture. Beach visitors, residents and businesses can use the following tips to keep the beaches turtle friendly throughout nesting season:

• If you encounter a nesting turtle, remain quiet and observe from a distance.

• Shield or turn off outdoor and indoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October.

• Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water.

• Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water.

• Place trash in its proper place.

• Do not approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles.

• Do not use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.

• Do not encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.

• Do not use fireworks on the beach.

Harassing or interfering with sea turtles, living or dead, is subject to legal penalty. If you witness anyone disturbing a turtle or find an injured or disoriented hatchling or adult, notify the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by calling 888-404-FWCC (3922), contact the local sheriff’s department or call Mote’s Sea Turtle Program at 941-388-4331. If you find a dead or injured sea turtle, dolphin or whale in Sarasota or Manatee counties, contact Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program, a 24-hour response service, at 941-988-0212.

 

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Longboat Key News

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