Sea turtles are threatened and endangered species found year-round in southwest Florida waters. These amazing animals breed just offshore, and females crawl ashore to nest during our busy summer boating season in Sarasota County. These turtles are at risk of being accidentally struck, injured and even killed by boats.
The good news is, boaters can protect sea turtles by slowing down and using vigilance in key locations. This voluntary Sea Turtle Protection Zone was mapped by Mote Marine Laboratory scientists who documented boat-strike hotspots in local waters.
Boaters, here’s how you can help turtles:
- Go slow: Go as slow as safely possible in areas bounded by red lines — the voluntary Sea Turtle Protection Zone — and limit your travel time in these areas. Follow any posted speed-zone signs — it’s required by law.
- Wear polarized sunglasses to see and avoid sea turtles in your path, and ask one of your passengers to be the designated wildlife spotter.
- Report stranded sea turtles (as well as stranded marine mammals) in Sarasota & Manatee counties to Mote at (888) 345-2335. Elsewhere in Florida, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: (888) 404-3922.