Sea turtle nesting season begins on May 1 and ends Oct. 31.
The first local sea turtle nests of 2018 were discovered Friday on Longboat on Friday.
Sea turtles play a critical role in maintaining the balance of the ocean that we depend on. Each sea turtle species has a different purpose in preserving the ocean’s ecosystem.
Without species like leatherbacks, for example, a bloom of jellyfish happens, and the number of fish eggs decreases because jellyfish eat fish eggs. This chain reaction wreaks havoc on the ecosystem which in turn affects us in the long run.
Loggerheads keep the ocean floor maintained by prevents the sediments from compacting and changing the distribution of nutrition necessary for other marine life. Hawkbills are responsible for taking care of the coral reefs and ridleys forage for crab which keeps their population in check.
Sea turtles jobs are never done so without them; our ecosystem would perish.
Once a hatchling is born, it takes them about 30 years to return to nest as adults. Interestingly enough, female loggerhead turtles return to their island of birth to nest.
Female sea turtles and their hatchlings find water by heading toward the brightest horizon on the natural beach because the ocean horizon is brighter than the shore. However, on a developed beach, you will find that the light from waterfront properties can disorient sea turtles and their hatchlings and draw them in the opposite directions, putting them at risk because of the roads, swimming pools, yards, and other dangerous locations.
If you notice a hatchling wandering away from the ocean, you should notify the local environmental protection agency as soon as possible. Usually, these hatchlings need to be taken to a darker portion of the beach so they can find the surf on their own. In some rare occasions, they may need to be placed in the water and allowed to swim away. You should always contact the local resources first before doing anything.
Here are some turtle-friendly tips on what to do if you encounter a turtle nest on Longboat Key:
- Remain quiet and at a distance, if you encounter a nesting turtle or hatchlings.
- Keep the outdoor lighting to a minimum during turtle nesting season.
- Close your drapes when it gets dark during turtle nesting season.
- If you see any holes on the beach that might entrap hatchlings, fill them.
- Approach the nests while being loud with any type of lights.
- Avoid using any flashlights or fishing lamps when you’re on the beach
- Try and get a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings while they are trying to head out to water.
- Avoid using any fireworks on the beach.