With more than 200 nests per mile, Sarasota County hosts the largest nesting sea turtle population on Florida’s gulf coast.
As turtle nesting season gets started, Sarasota County sent out a reminder to frequent beach-goers on Friday that lights need to be kept out of sight of sea turtle nests.
Artificial light is one of several threats to sea turtle survival, according to Sarasota County Wildlife Specialist Jaclyn Irwin.
"Only one out of every 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood,” she said. “Each year thousands of hatchlings die from predation, exhaustion and starvation due to the disorientation caused by bright, artificial lights.”
Other threats include coastal structures, beach furniture and plastics mistaken for the turtle's natural foods.
In a release, the county also included the following tips to help sea turtles survive the season:
- Remove all furniture and recreational items from the beach every night and store them in an area landward of the beach and dunes.
- Properly dispose of trash. Sea turtles ingest plastic bags and garbage attracts predators that eat turtle eggs.
- Knock down sand sculptures and fill in holes before you leave the beach so turtles have direct access into and out of the water. A turtle that falls into a hole cannot get out.
- Reduce use of flashlights on the beach at night.
- Stay clear of marked nesting areas.
- Property owners must either extinguish or shield lights visible from the beach, or replace white incandescent, fluorescent and high-intensity lighting with amber or red light-emitting diodes (LED) or low-pressure sodium vapor (LPS) fixtures.