The nesting season for sea turtles starts May 1 and runs through Oct. 31.
Sea turtles are a protected species, and it’s vital that visitors and residents of Siesta Key take measures to maintain their habitat and increase their chance for survival.
Here are some tips:
* If you encounter a nesting turtle or hatchlings, remain quiet and observe from a distance.
* Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October.
* Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water.
* Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water.
* Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles.
* Use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
* Encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.
* Use fireworks on the beach.
Last year, Mote Marine reported that its team documented 521 yearly sea turtle nests on Siesta Key. In addition, another 603 “false crawls” were reported on Siesta Key beaches, which indicate that a female sea turtle crawled onto the beach but returned to the gulf waters without leaving a nest.