Sea turtles have remained essentially unchanged for over 150 million years; however, they face an uncertain future. Illegal harvesting, habitat encroachment, marine debris, and light pollution are some of the problems threatening sea turtles.
Three species of sea turtles are known to nest on the beaches in Miami-Dade: the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, the Green Sea Turtle, and the Leatherback Sea Turtle. Sea turtle hatchlings are born with the instinct to head toward the brightest light on the beach after hatching, which is usually the light of the moon reflected off the ocean surf. In coastal areas with artificial lighting, hatchlings may become disoriented and travel in the wrong direction away from the ocean, potentially never making it to the water.
All species of sea turtles typically found in US waters are either endangered or threatened. They are protected under the United States Endangered Species Act of 1973 and Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act (370.12, Florida Statutes). Sea turtle nesting season on Miami-Dade beaches runs May 1 to October 31 each year.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Public Support is essential for the survival of sea turtles. Here are some ways you can help:
• Never approach turtles emerging from the sea or disturb or harass nesting turtles. No matter how quiet, humans will often – and unknowingly – frighten nesting sea turtles back into the sea.
• Use caution while boating to avoid collision with turtles.
• Stay clear of marked sea turtle nests on the beach.
• Keep bright lights from shining onto the beach. If you have security or safety lights near the beach, build shades around the light so the beach is not directly illuminated.
• Call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWC) to report someone disturbing a sea turtle nest or an injured, dead, or harassed sea turtle. Call: 1-888-404-FWCC or Cell phone: *FWC or #FWC
Look for the yellow signs and the marked nesting area and then give them a wide berth.
Do Not Disturb, We are Nesting!
This is the first in a series of articles which will be published over the summer months to give our residents the information needed to help these protected species.