Despite battering from waves, turtle nesting stays strong

Editor & Publisher

Freshly hatched, with finite energy, sea turtles must efficiently scramble to the sea avoiding a myriad of hungry predators.

And although the predation primarily consists of birds, racoons, armadillos, snakes and other aggressors, perhaps the greatest threat is ambient light streaming from condominiums that all but end their chance to make it to the safety of the Gulf of Mexico.

So far this year, Mote Marine Laboratory, which oversees sea turtle nesting patrols from Longboat Key to Venice, has documented more than 225 disorientations. Through the end of August, Mote recorded just over 3,600 Loggerhead turtle nests and 86 green sea turtle nests.

Longboat Key, Lido Key, and Siesta Key show far more disorientations than Casey Key, which is mostly dark on the shorelines.

Farther south, Manasota Key has had a bumper crop of turtles with more than 4,600 Loggerhead nests, 150 green sea turtle nests and two Kemp’s Ridley turtle nests documented. It has been especially prolific for green sea turtles.

Although sea turtle nesting season runs from May 1 through Oct. 31 each year, the next month and a half is especially important because nests will be hatching.

Hatchlings are easily distracted and confused by artificial light and property owners are urged to turn off outdoor lights and close curtains and drapes and blinds. Also, beach walkers should not use flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach.

Turtles can also become entangled and ensnared in such beachside belongings such as chairs, barbeque grills, and other items that should be removed before nightfall.

Sea turtles are protected by both state and federal laws and if a resident notices a hatchling wandering in a roadway or in a direction indicating disorientation, they can call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation  at 888-404-3922.

More information can be found at Mote.org

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Longboat Key News

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