On Saturday, April 30, just one day before the official start of loggerhead sea turtle nesting season, the first local sea turtle nest was found and documented by Mote Marine Laboratory. This season, these turtles beat the records for the amount of nests among multiple areas of Sarasota. In 2015, the grand total reached a whopping 2,475 nests along the entirety of the Longboat Key and Venice coast from May 1– Oct. 31.
However, this year’s nest numbers may give 2015’s a run for their money. With 698 nests along Longboat Key (beating the 2013 record of 643 nests), and 408 nests along Siesta Key (beating the 1995 record of 343 nests), 2016 is already proving to be a year of over-achieving.
Here are a few tips Mote Marine gives for doing our part in sea turtle conservation:
- Be sure to observe the nesting turtles/hatchlings from a distance, and remain quiet to avoid upsetting the nesting area.
- Artificial light from beachfront properties can be disorienting to the nesting female turtles and their nests since they use the natural light to find the sea, so be sure to turn off any outdoor lights visible to the beach area to avoid disturbing the turtles.
- Try to move/remove as much debris from the path of the nests to the sea, such as furniture, that may deter the hatched baby turtles from reaching the ocean.
- Always follow the Coast Guard-approved guidelines while out on your boat, and stay alert of your surroundings to steer clear of sea turtles.
- Sea turtles and other marine life often times digest or get stuck in trash floating in the ocean, so be sure to avoid littering in the ocean by keeping all trash on deck until coming back to shore.
Mote also encourages residents to take action and contact the appropriate department in case of an emergency in regards to the sea turtles. Here’s what to look out for and who to contact.
If you see a sick, injured or stranded sea turtle or other marine animal, call Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program at (941) 988-0212 and/or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission (FWC) at (888) 404-FWCC (3922)
Suspect harassment/tampering with a sea turtle or it’s nest, contact your local sheriff’s department AND/OR Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program at (941) 388-4331.