Get in the Ranks of the Turtle Walker’s, be a Turtle Ranger

This will be the 32nd nesting season for the Miami-Dade County Parks Sea Turtle Patrol that started up in 1980 by Beach Supervisor Mr. Jim Hoover. Since 1994 I have been on the beaches learning and honing my skills of tracking female sea turtles on the historic nesting beaches of Southeast Florida.

There are three different types of sea turtles or marine turtles that nest on Sunny Isles Beach historic beaches. The Loggerhead will be 3 to 4 feet long weighing about 300 to 400 pounds & eat crabs, lobster, puffer fish to jellyfish; the critically endangered Green sea turtle is 4 to 5 feet long weighing 400 to 500 pounds. It is a vegetarian & eats plant life & a lot of sea grasses. Finally, the mighty Leatherback is extremely endangered & will be from 6 to 10 feet long & weigh up to 1,000 pounds! The Leatherback feed on soft marine life with the food of choice being jellyfish.

Sea Turtles go back in time 150 million years. If the turtles vanish from the face of Mother Earth then who will be eating the jellyfish? Who will be cleaning the sea weed from the sea so light can propagate the sea floor? So you see not only do us humans have a job to perform but our sea turtles have jobs as well. And so it goes in the 21st century. Our sea turtle and their future hatchlings need your help.

In the past, most nests located were relocated to a safe hatchery system. But through the years we have made contact with many Sunny Isles Beach residents & formed an informal group of Turtle Walkers. Most residents are on their early morning exercise walk. Some for pleasure & finding a moment to reflect & relax, but for other it’s a business of keeping in shape. It is a medical fact that walking for your health can trim you down and also extend your life.

This is the point of this little story. The more beach goers & beach residents who know about endangered sea turtles, the better they can survive. Only one percent will make it to maturity. In the 2011 nesting season The City of Sunny Isles Beach had 53 endangered Loggerhead nests & four critically endangered Green sea turtle nests documented on your shores. Out of the 57 nests 2,063 eggs were yielded. Not all eggs hatch, some may be infertile. But 1,655 sea turtle hatchlings did make their way to the sea. Each sea turtle nest will have 50 to 180 eggs deposited in the nest. This is called a clutch of eggs.

A sea turtle nest will take 55 to 60 days to unfold baby sea turtles, known as hatchlings. The first nest is historically in mid May. June & July are very high nesting months & known as the Peak Nesting Time. Nesting will continue until mid September. The last baby turtles will leave about the end of October. May 1st to October 31st is the nesting season in Miami-Dade.

The Sunny Isles Beach first sea turtle nest of the season was located on May 14th behind the Ocean I on 193rd street. Nest two & three were located on May 15th. One at Samson Oceanfront Park & the other is behind The Turnberry Ocean Colony. This 2012 season we are making plans to have a Community Sea Turtle Hatchling Release in mid August. Details to follow, as Mother Nature provides new life on an Ancient Nesting Beach.

• Helping Beach Maintenance pick up plastic products before they become a seafaring menace to sea life.
• Keep watch from July to October for wayward sea turtle hatchlings.
• 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.
• Other issues that diminish sea turtle populations are oil spills, & discarded fish line.
• Call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWC) to report someone disturbing a sea turtle nest or an injured, dead, or harassed sea turtle, or wayward sea turtle hatchlings. Call: 1- 888-404-FWCC or from your cell phone: *FWC or #FWC.

Thank you all for helping the Sea Tu rtle survive into the 21st Century!

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1 Comment on "Get in the Ranks of the Turtle Walker’s, be a Turtle Ranger"

  1. Jim Hoover has been at that a very long time. Met him in1983 in the Caymans in the beginning of the program. He has done so much to help the Sea Turtles.

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