Just in time for the start of nesting season, Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Patrol discovered the first two sea turtle nests of 2010 on Sarasota County beaches.
Turtle patrollers found this year’s first loggerhead sea turtle nest May 4 in Venice and spotted a second May 5 on Siesta Key. Throughout nesting season, which runs May 1 through Oct. 31, Mote staff and more than 250 volunteers comb Sarasota County beaches every day to monitor the nests. The organization’s turtle patrol is now in its 29th year.
Loggerheads, followed by endangered green sea turtles, are the most common species found on Southwest Florida beaches and are considered threatened under federal law.
“This year, we’ve had a very normal beginning to our nesting season,” said Kristen Mazzarella, a senior biologist with Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, ans also the turtle patrol’s coordinator. “The first nests were timed almost with the season’s official start.”
Weekly updates on sea turtle nesting for Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, Casey Key and Venice will soon be posted at www.mote.org/2010nesting.
Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected].
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.