May 1st is the first day of Nesting Season for many sea turtles!
Sea turtles are coming to beaches to lay their eggs, which they bury high up on the beach. All sea turtle species that are found in U.S. waters are federally listed as either threatened or endangered. Before we get into more about nesting, take a look at these cute hatchlings heading to their forever home!
In order to ensure that we continue to see these amazing creatures hatch and reach the ocean safely we MUST remember a few things during nesting season!
If you encounter an adult or newborn sea turtle, leave it be.
Mother sea turtles coming ashore have a hard road ahead of them, and interactions with humans make it even harder.
Because all sea turtles are protected, we all need to be very careful not to do anything that might interfere with their behavior. If you happen to see an adult turtle crawling up or down the beach, please, leave it be!
Personally, I witnessed my first adult turtle crawling up from the beach to lay her eggs 2 years ago when we teamed up with Turtle Tuesday and Tideline Resorts in Palm Beach, FL for our first ever beach cleanup. When I was first saw her, I was at a loss for words. Such a large, peaceful creature 20 feet in front of me crawling. It truly made everything we do at Makai fit and worth everything.
Because of their small size and the threat of predators, newborn sea turtles also have a difficult journey over the sand and to the ocean. If you're ever lucky enough to spot sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest, they should keep other people, and especially pets, out of the baby turtles' way.
Turn off the lights
Adult turtles typically lay their eggs at night, and shining lights on or near the turtle could disturb the turtle and cause it to abandon its nesting efforts.
When baby sea turtles emerge from the nest, their number one goal is to get to the ocean as fast as they can. Turtles usually leave the nest at night and orient themselves to the ocean by following the light reflected off the water.
If there are lights that shine onto the beach, the baby turtles might head in the wrong direction and put themselves in danger. Many beach towns will actually have laws in place that prohibit lights that shine toward the beach to be turned off during nesting season.
Beach visitors can make the journey from the nest to the ocean easier for nesting mother turtles and their hatchlings by clearing the way for them.
The fewer obstacles the turtles encounter, the easier it is for them to get to and from the water. So when you leave the beach, remove beach chairs and umbrellas, and level sand moved around by building sandcastles or digging holes.
With these three small things we can help increase the chances that hatchlings can hatch and reach their forever home safely!