The FWC recommends residents and visitors in Florida’s coastal communities follow these guidelines to help conserve sea turtles and their hatchlings:
Hands Off Hatchlings! Even well-meaning attempts to rescue sea turtle hatchlings can do more harm than good. Sea turtle hatchlings are digging out of their nests and clambering toward the Gulf anytime from July to October, and sometimes even longer. Just remember, “Hands off!” is the best policy for beachgoers encountering sea turtle hatchings. Digging into a sea turtle nest, entering a posted area or picking up a sea turtle hatchling to take a photo are against the law.
Turn Out the Lights, Save a Life. Turn off or adjust lighting along the beach in order to prevent nesting females or hatchlings from getting confused and going toward lights on land, instead of the salt water where they belong. Use turtle-friendly lighting outside homes and other buildings along the beach. Replace incandescent, fluorescent and high-intensity bulbs with FWC-certified low-wattage, long wavelength options available in red or amber colors. Turn out outdoor lights at night when not needed. With beach lighting, remember to:
Keep It Long – Long wavelength lights are better for turtles. Look for the red and amber lights that have been certified as turtle-friendly by the FWC.
Keep It Low – When illuminating walkways use low-wattage bulbs and install lights close to the ground.
Keep It Shielded – Focus lights down, not up or outward, to avoid confusing nesting turtles and hatchlings.
Shut Curtains and Blinds – Close curtains and draw blinds at night on beachfront windows and doors.
Clear the Way at the End of the Day. Nesting mothers and hatchling sea turtles can get trapped, confused or impeded by gear left on the beach at night. Remove items such as boats, beach chairs, umbrellas, buckets and tents at the end of the day, and fill in holes or level piles of sand before nightfall. Also, avoid burying umbrella poles in the sand; use pole-holders or sleeves instead. Properly dispose of any trash, food or other litter in covered trash cans to avoid attracting predators to the nests.
Choose Turtle-Friendly Activities. Remember less beach driving means more sea turtles surviving! While driving carts, cars or trucks are allowed on some beaches, vehicles can crush sea turtle nests, killing hatchlings and nesting turtles. Lighting bonfires on the beach is also hazardous to sea turtles. In addition to the danger of a fire on the sand, the bright light can confuse hatchlings making their way to the ocean. Also remember it is illegal to disturb or harm sea turtles and their nests, eggs and hatchlings.
The FWC works to conserve Florida sea turtles, including coordinating nesting beach survey programs around the state. Report sick, injured, entangled or dead sea turtles to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 1-888-404-3922, #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone or text Tip@MyFWC.com. Visit MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle, and click on “Sea Turtles and Lights” or “Wildlife Friendly Lighting” for more information on keeping beaches dark and safe for sea turtles.
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You can help our nesting sea turtles and their habitat as well as baby hatchlings by following Walton County’s Leave No Trace Ordinance. By removing all belongings, chairs, umbrellas, tents, toys, trash, from the beach each day, you’re helping our sea turtles survive and find their way back to their marine habitat safely. Whatever you carry in, please carry it out. For more information on the ordinance go to:
We’ve all been told that we should recycle plastic bottles and containers. But what actually happens to the plastic if we just throw it away? Emma Bryce traces the life cycles of three different plastic bottles, shedding light on the dangers these disposables present to our world.
(Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday designated 685 miles (1,100 km) of beaches from Mississippi to North Carolina and 300,000 square miles (777,000 sq km) of ocean off the Gulf and Atlantic coasts as critical nesting and roaming habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles.
The joint ruling by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the largest critical habitat designation in U.S. history, environmentalists say.
The announcement followed a lawsuit filed last year by environmental groups to require the government to protect the area. Scientists said the area is home to 70,000 to 90,000 nesting sites per year and comprises 84 percent of all known nesting areas for the large sea turtles.
The designated area includes some reproductive areas directly off of nesting beaches from North Carolina through Mississippi, and breeding habitat in Florida, as well as 88 nesting beaches in six states which account for 48 percent of an estimated 1,531 miles (2,464 km) of coastal beach shoreline used by loggerheads.
“Given the vital role loggerhead sea turtles play in maintaining the health of our oceans, rebuilding their populations is key as we work to ensure healthy and resilient oceans for generations to come,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries.
Protection doesn’t limit public access to the designated areas but requires that any federal activity in the waters off nesting sites, such as drilling or fisheries, must be further scrutinized for possible impact on the turtles.
The loggerhead is the most common sea turtle in the southeastern United States and migrate thousands of miles in U.S. waters but nest on Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico shores.
They can live 40 years or longer, weighing up to 250 pounds (113 kg), and were first listed as endangered in 1978.Loggerheads face persistent threats from fishing gear, pollution and climate change, said Amanda Keledjian, a marine scientist at Oceana, a Washington-based nonprofit environmental group, one of three organizations that sued the government.
Scientists estimate about 50,000 loggerhead sea turtles are caught in shrimp trawls each year in the Gulf of Mexico, she said.
Endangered or threatened sea turtles that frequent Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico waters also include Kemp’s ridley, leatherback and green sea turtles.
Walton County has a Wildlife Lighting Ordinance which provides guidelines for proper light management. For information on local lighting regulations and to see the complete ordinance, visit Walton County’s website.
For information on sea turtle friendly lights go to the following:
Walton County Lighting Ordinance