Turtles careen into furniture left on Longboat Key beaches

Associate Publisher

If the 14 sea turtles that lurched into beach chairs on Lido seems like a lot, the 59 sea turtles that careened into furniture on Longboat Key seems staggering.

Several residents have echoed the sentiment of too much furniture being left on the beaches overnight. In fact, residents have written the town expressing their concern regarding the amount of beach furniture, and their frustration that the town is not doing enough to enforce the new beach ordinance prohibiting furniture on the beach at night.

Judith Berson wrote to the town expressing concern over the amount of beach furniture left on beaches, as well as what she says is a lack of enforcement efforts the town is placing into citing people and resorts for violations of the new ordinance.

Berson wrote to Commissioner Jack Daly with her observations and said that she has seen many items left on the beach overnight and that no one is receiving any citations for violating the new ordinance.

“I walk the beach very often year round and it is frustrating to see furniture, chairs, tables, storage chests, boats, tent frames, shading frames, large toys, coolers, and various soft goods such as pillows, blankets, and clothing on the public beach left overnight and through the early morning hours. The same stuff is left out weekly and it is obvious that the law is not being enforced. Likewise, white lights are being left on in the evenings and early mornings,” wrote Berson.

Berson also questioned why the town was not doing anything to enforce the new ordinance.

“My question to you and our other commissioners is, ‘Why isn’t this being enforced?’ Does the council tell the police to not enforce this provision or is no budget provided for the enforcement? What is the reason for the lack of enforcement? We are in the seventh month of the year and the turtle season is in high gear and more nests are hatching daily and the turtles cannot get through all the stuff on the beach. The reason it was passed was because it needed to be enforced and trying to spread the word wasn’t working. Now it needs to be firmly enforced,” continued Berson.

Commissioner Jack Daly as well as Deputy Police Chief Frank Rubino responded to Berson’s concerns and assured her that everything was being done to properly enforce the new ordinance.

“Be assured that enforcement is a top priority; and you should see progress with respect to your expressed concerns,” wrote Daly.

The sea turtle nesting season began May 1, and Mote Marine and Longboat Key Turtle Watch are collecting data in an effort to monitor the habits of the threatened and endangered species. Mote and the Town of Longboat Key Code Enforcement also must monitor residences along the beaches to make sure the species are protected from excessive lighting, beach furniture and other objects that cause sea turtles and their hatchlings to become disoriented. Last year, Longboat Key had the highest number of sea turtle disorientations in the area, which caused state agencies to require Longboat Key to adopt a more restrictive sea turtle protection ordinance or else the town would not be granted beach renourishment permits in the future.

Sea turtle disorientations are divided into adult and hatchling disorientations; with adult sea turtles tending to become disoriented due to being lodged in a hole dug in the sand or stuck under a beach chair and hatchlings can become disoriented more likely due to excessive lighting coming from buildings on the beach.

This year, Longboat Key’s new more stringent sea turtle ordinance has taken affect. It prohibits indoor lighting as well as exterior lighting from hitting the beach at night as well as requiring all beach furniture to be brought away from the beach at night.

Now that Longboat has added the beach furniture removal to the ordinance, Mote Marine can now compare data from other municipalities that have beach furniture removal ordinances to determine which areas are experiencing more disorientations due to beach furniture.

In a report this week from Longboat Key Turtle Permit Holder and Mote Marine Scientist Kristin Mazzarella, she compiled the following data regarding sea turtle incidents with beach furniture: Longboat Key 59; Lido Key 14; Siesta Key 10; Casey Key 14; Venice 0.

These numbers do not take into account the numbers of sea turtles actually coming ashore onto each area, so an area that has more sea turtles coming ashore may appear to have more disorientations, but in relation to the total number of sea turtles coming ashore to try to nest, may actually be proportionately low (see table for sea turtle tallies).

Longboat Key Turtle Watch Vice President Cyndi Seamon stated, “In the past it has been tough to compare (numbers of beach chair incidences) since Sarasota County and Venice has had a beach furniture ordinance and Longboat Key has not. With the new ordinance that passed on Longboat Key last year, and is supposed to be enforced this year, it should be easier to compare. Of course we also have to keep in mind the density and length of other areas compared to Longboat Key. No matter, it would appear Longboat Key is leading the pack in a number we should not be so proud to report.”


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Longboat Key News

2 Responses for “Turtles careen into furniture left on Longboat Key beaches”

  1. ghostrider says:

    There is a simple solution.

    You pass an ordinance that states: “What you carry in, you carry out by 7pm.”
    You then confiscate anything left behind and you impose a 24 hour time frame to reclaim the items.
    Additionally, there is a $25 administrative charge for reclaiming one’s beach possessions..

    My entrance to the beach had enough chairs left behind for a small wedding of twenty.

  2. John Beck says:

    I agree this is a very important topic.
    As an Interior Designer & Concierge for many clients on Longboat Key, I personally know this enforcement starts with the Homeowner.
    Educating the public with articles is helpful, I think advertising campaigns might be helpful too.
    Something in conjunction with the tourism marketing program the government has monet to “market” FL to tourists.
    When they come to our beautiful state, here are some guidelines.
    We have Sea Turtles (what they need)
    We have Alligators (this is best how to avoid interacting with them)
    We have Sharks (this is what not to do)
    We have Manatee (this is were you can view them safely, don’t drive your boats w-props near them)
    We have Hurricane weather (don’t drive thru standing water)

    Just a few guidelines for the outdoor adventure activity informed individual, so they can enjoy our beaches safely; while allowing nature to do the same.

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