The first sea turtle hatchlings of the year emerged June 24 from a nest in Venice.
“We’re happy to report that this nest hatched right around the expected time and the hatchlings successfully found their way to the sea,” said Kristen Mazzarella, a senior biologist in Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program.
Hatchlings generally emerge in the evening and use dim natural light to find the sea. Artificial lights on the beach can make hatchlings and nesting mothers become disoriented.
This year, to help protect sea turtles, the city of Venice adopted a revised lighting ordinance designed to keep beaches darker.
“With this positive change, we hope that many more hatchlings will be as successful as these,” Mazzarella said.
Meanwhile, after a slow start to nesting season, mother sea turtles can continue nesting on local beaches.
Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol — a group of 270 Mote staff, interns and volunteers who monitor nesting activity — counted 115 loggerhead sea turtle nests as of June 26, on beaches from Longboat Key to Venice.
Here is a list of tips to help keep beaches turtle-friendly during nesting season.
• If you encounter a nesting turtle, remain quiet and observe from a distance.
• Shield or turn off outdoor 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.
• Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise or shine lights at turtles.
• Use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
• Encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.
• Use fireworks on the beach
* Information courtesy of mote.org.
Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected].