If you’ve stayed with us through the late spring or summer months in the past, then it’s clear that we love sea turtles. These friendly little (or should we say big) reptilian ocean dwellers start to emerge from their aquatic abodes and make their way onto our beaches around May to start their annual nesting season. We’ve written in the past about how crucial to the perpetuation of their species it is that we absolutely do not disturb our shelled pals during this vital step in their life-cycle. Leaving them be isn’t all you can do though. At the wannaB, we value these turtles’ lives so much that we encourage our guests to do all they can to help ensure they enjoy a successful nesting period, so that we can continue to welcome them onto our beaches every year. Helping the sea turtles starts with you, so we’ve outlined a few things that we do, and a few things that you can do over the next few months.
So, what is Sea Turtle Nesting Season exactly? Quite briefly, it’s one of the most important times in the life of a sea turtle. This is the time when a turtle will move onto the beach to prepare a nest where she can lay her eggs. From here, the eggs will hatch, and the newborn turtles will find their own way back into the ocean. This may seem harsh but trust the mother turtle! This is how they’ve done it for centuries, and an animal with an average lifespan of eighty years can’t be wrong! That said, out of the seven known species of sea turtles, six of them are endangered. If, like us, you think that’s too high, here’s what you can do to help move the needle in the other direction.
Steps to Take
We’ve already taken some steps at the resort to make our beach a more turtle-friendly environment. For instance, we’ve changed all our lightbulbs near the beach to be a little less harsh – many lights have been made yellow. Brighter, white lights can often disorient and misdirect newborn turtles, leading them away from the water. To help even further, we would ask that you:
Move all Furniture and Equipment from the beach & Fill in all Holes by Sunset
There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting out on the beach during a nice summer day, but our chairs, coolers, and even umbrellas can stifle the progress of a baby turtle attempting to reach the water. Similarly, if your young ones dig holes on the beach, we’d ask that you kindly fill these in, as turtles may wander in and not be able to get out again.
Avoid Flashlights and Flash Photography on the Beach
Like the bright lightbulbs we’ve changed out, flashlights and flash photography can be a little too harsh for the turtles, potentially disturbing them. We understand the urge to snap some pictures of these cute little fellas, but we would ask that if you must take photos, please do so without a flash and from as wide a distance as you can give them.
No Animals or Fires on the Beach
This one should be pretty self-explanatory. Larger animals like dogs would love to run up and play with a fresh batch of turtles, but their definition of play is a bit different than the turtles’ and would put not only the hatchlings, but the mother turtle in danger as well. As far as fires on the beach, the turtles may become drawn to the warmth and light of the blaze, and unknowingly wander too close, causing themselves harm. After all, they’re just babies and don’t know any better! Better to just skip the fire and watch out for our little friends’ safety.
Close Your Blinds at Night
Our final request is that you close your blinds if you have your lights on at night. Baby turtles rely on the moonlight reflecting off the ocean’s surface to direct them home, and if they see a light through your window instead, they may end up outside your room instead of in the water. As nice as it would be to get a visit from a baby turtle, it’s crucial to its survival that it finds its way to the ocean. The mother turtle may become disoriented as well and end up getting lost closer to the resort rather than building a next on the beach in the comfy sand. In fact, we’ve had to help a mother sea turtle find her way back to the beach after wandering up to the property in the past. While we’re lucky that our guests have such big hearts as to help a lost sea turtle, we think the best case scenario is to avoid any turtles getting lost at all.
These are the most important steps that you can take to ensure a safe and prosperous nesting season for our majestic friends, the sea turtle. While last year’s Hurricane Irma did the turtles no favors, we’re hoping that by doing everything in our power to help them, they’ll be returning to our beaches for many years to come. We appreciate you following these steps to help the sea turtles, and if you’re interested in learning more, check out this article prepared by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.