Sea turtle nesting season is among us, lasting until Oct. 31. So, it’s once again time to get out of one’s shell and spread the word.
Newbies to Siesta Key should know that turtle protection is a local topic taken very seriously. Sarasota County hosts the highest density of loggerhead nests in the Gulf of Mexico region, so they’re considered members of the family in these parts.
Furthermore, the end of June through July is when hatching typically starts. Thus, awareness of the rules takes on a heightened importance.
Now, it may be true that loggerheads are unlikely to snap at you, but that doesn’t mean the local residents won’t do just that if you don’t respect the turtles.
After all, they are a protected species. Harming them is actually illegal.
So, what are the do’s and don’ts?
Nests will be marked with wooden stakes and orange or yellow tape. Stay clear of them. The adults scare easily and may abandon the nest.
When your beach day is over, remove all furniture and fill-in any holes in the sand. All of that becomes an obstacle when it’s time to head from the nest to the water.
Taking pictures is also considered a no-no. A camera flash disorients them. Same with a cell-phone light.
Come evening, the emphasis on darkness is crucial. Turtles head toward the brightest direction, which is ideally the open night sky above the Gulf. Even flashlights and fishing lamps can be troublesome, while outdoor porch or balcony lighting is very hard on them. Those staying near the beach should even close their blinds or drapes.
You’ll feel good about taking these measures. And your reward will be moonlight and stars above the Gulf that are mesmerizing.
And a thriving sea turtle community.
— John Morton