Have you noticed more sea turtles nesting this year than any other year before? The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission or FWC has authorized staff members to relocate all nesting from Government Cut to the Northern end of Dade-County, Fisher Island, Key Biscayne and Crandon Park. However, in our City of Sunny Isles Beach, the Miami-Dade Parks Sea Turtle Program, at the request of FWC and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), will leave all sea turtle nesting in their natural nest sites. This is because the City has adopted a Lighting Ordinance (108-16 – Prohibited Activities Disruptive to Marine Turtle) that favors the turtles!
Scientific study of the nests exactly where the female turtle laid the eggs is called in situwhich means to examine the phenomenon exactly in the place where it occurs. (i.e. without moving or altering it). Now, you, as a resident are seeing more marked nests because most of our coastal construction (i.e. condo, hotels, etc.) is “Sea Turtle Friendly” due to the 40% tinted windows on buildings, the redirecting light from beach areas onto properties and the changing from regular outside lighting to low frequency outside lighting. All this helps to preserve and help Sea Turtles in their nesting stage.
So, the best answer is letting nature take it’s natural course. Sea turtles are very fertile and will nest up until their final days. Sea turtles live as long as a human being, perhaps 70 to 100 years old. However, female sea turtles will nest for 2 to 3 years and then will rest for the next 2 to 3 years. The off years will allow the female turtle body to regain the necessary nurturance to begin her egg factory cycle again.
This year seems to be a boom year! The last 3 seasons, the City of Sunny Isles Beach has had a healthy nesting frequency, but in low numbers. In 2010 about 128 nests were recorded in Miami-Dade County Beaches, 17 in the City of Sunny Isles Beach. As of July 2011, there have been 177 nests in Miami-Dade County Beaches, 32 in the City of Sunny Isles Beach. The nesting subsides around mid-September.
There are 5 species of sea turtles: Loggerhead, Green Turtle, Leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley and the Hawksbill, in this region. The City of Sunny Isles Beach coastline has 4 of 8 nests in Miami-Dade-County of the endangered Green Turtle species. To learn more about the species you can log on to: http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/seaturtles/ fl-sea-turtles/species/
Nesting season or Turtle Season in Miami-Dade County is from May 1st to October 31st. For more information, please log on to: http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/ sea-turtles/
This article was completed with the help of Bill Ahern, Miami-Dade County Sea Turtle Permit Holder & Conversationalist.