May 1st is just around the corner, so that means that Sea Turtle nesting season on Anna Maria Island is about to begin. Really it can begin any time now. Volunteers on Anna Maria Island are getting ready to take a watch on the beach for signs of nesting so they can protect them when they do begin making their nests.
The most common type of turtle to make their nests here on our island are loggerhead turtles. If you’ve visited here before between the months of May and October, you’ve probably seen nests marked off throughout our 7 mile stretch of white sandy beaches. Not only are these loggerhead turtles amazing to watch, but they are a vital part of our ecosystem and help to keep our beaches beautiful. They graze on seagrass and help to provide key nutrients promoting the healthy growth of vegetation which is crucial for other types of marine life.
These turtles are facing extension, mostly due to human interference, between fishermen’s nets, and trash in our seas, but the biggest problem they face is being disorientated. When the babies hatch, they follow the light from the horizon leading them to the ocean. Here are ways you can help them get there safely.
- Turn off any lights that are visible to the beach as to not confuse nesting sea turtles between sunset and sunrise
- Don’t use flashlights, lanterns or a camera with a flash at night on the beach
- Don’t light or use fireworks
- Don’t leave items on the beach such as beach chairs or umbrellas, they can deter sea turtles from nesting and disorient the hatchlings
- If you’re playing on the beach and dig a hole, please fill it in so it doesn’t create a trap for a turtle
- Please, never touch a sea turtle; it is the law, and if you see someone touching one, report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They have an alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).