Sea turtle nesting season is underway on Navarre Beach as of May 1. As these endangered and threatened species come to our shores to lay their nests in the sand, human beings can be their biggest threat. Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and green sea turtles frequent Navarre Beach and are expected to start laying nests over the coming weeks. Here are tips from sea turtle conservationists on limiting human impacts during nesting season.
- Clear the way
Sea turtles have difficulty navigating outside of the water. The only time adult sea turtles naturally return to the shore is to lay their eggs. Items along the shoreline can block their way and even entrap the turtles. Adult sea turtles have died due to entanglement in beach furniture. Litter can also be an issue.
Santa Rosa County has a “Leave No Trace” ordinance which makes it illegal to leave items on the beach between dusk and dawn. Items left out become property of Santa Rosa County, and violators could face fines. Clean these items up to pave the way for nesting turtles.
- Lights out
Typical man-made lights can be disorienting for sea turtle adults and hatchlings. Females may avoid nesting on a beach if it is too bright, and hatchlings can also be drawn away from the safety of the water by lights, causing them to die on shore.
At night, turn off outdoor lights or replace bulbs with turtle-friendly red or amber versions available at hardware stores. Close blinds to keep indoor lights from shining to the outside.
If on the beach at night, do not use flashlights or flash photography which can disorient the turtles.
- Knock it down, fill it in
Just like beach chairs and trash, sandcastles and holes can be dangerous to sea turtles. Adults and hatchlings can have difficulty getting around buildups in the sand. Holes can be deadly, trapping hatchlings and adults. When playing in the sand, beachgoers are advised to level the surface back out once they are done, toppling piles and filling in any holes.
- Give her space
On occasion, beachgoers will have the good luck to spot a sea turtle nesting on the beach. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the only species that regularly nests during the daylight, while other species nest at night or just before dawn.
Observers can limit their impact on nesting sea turtles by remaining back away from the turtle and behind her. Noise should be minimal, and flash photography should be avoided to keep from disturbing the turtle.
- Do not disturb
It is against the law to disturb, touch or otherwise harass a nesting sea turtle, her nest or hatchlings. These species receive critical protections from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and federal endangered species laws. Harassment of nesting sea turtles or their nests can result in fines and even jail time.
Give the turtles the best chance of survival by limiting impacts to their natural home during your visit to beautiful Navarre Beach. Book at NavarreListings.com.