Every year Sanibel Islanders and visitors get all excited at the beginning of Turtle Season on Sanibel… and then the waiting starts. Turtles usually appear over night to bury their clutch of eggs and then with the morning comes the Turtle Patrol who monitor the activity and place the protective barriers around the new nests. And then we wait!
Now is the time where all this activity comes to a head and the newborn turtles make their way out of the sands, scrambling to get up to the surface and out to the water. This is the second half of the critical call to locals and visitors alike to keep the lights off on the beach because the babies go towards the reflections in the water. If they head toward an artificial light away from the beach they lose all their stored up energy and expire too far away from the life giving seas.
Turtle nesting has been monitored since the 1950’s making it one of the longest in the country’s history. The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation http://www.sccf.org/ is the entity that tackles this job with more than 18 miles of beach a daunting task!
Please use their helpful list to keep our beaches sea turtle friendly.
- Turn off or shield all lights that are visible from the beach.
- Do not use flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach. If necessary, use amber or red LED bulbs
- Do not disturb the screens covering nests. They prevent eggs from being eaten by predators and the hatchlings emerge through the holes without assistance
- Remove all beach furniture and equipment from the beach at night
- Dispose of fishing line properly to avoid wildlife entanglement
- Fill in large holes that can trap hatchlings
- Do not disturb nesting turtles – please do not to get too close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles
- Pick up litter