The sea turtles have arrived on Longboat Key. Even though turtle season is officially from May 1 to Oct. 31, the first nest was spotted and documented on April 24.
Volunteers from the Longboat Key Turtle Watch, who patrol the beaches under the auspices of permit from Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, found the nest on the southern end of the Key. It's pretty common for turtles to begin nesting before the official start of the season.
Now that the beach is open for their business, Gulf-side residents will have to make sure to change their outdoor lights to red frequencies to keep the turtles on track, close blinds at night and bring all temporary structures such as beach furniture off the sand.