2019 Turtle Season Ends This Month

By Kai Rambow

 

The calendar says summer is over, but it’s still turtle season on Florida beaches. If you do head to the beach this month, no doubt you’ll see areas blocked off. Hundreds of volunteers work to ensure turtle activity is tracked and nests are protected. Turtle season officially runs from May 1 to October 31.  Several turtles nested in late April; apparently, they didn’t get the notice.

Mote Aquarium is one of many organizations in Florida coordinating efforts to protect sea turtles. Mote has over 300 volunteers patrolling 35 miles of beaches every morning. 

Volunteers are trained before nesting season starts.  Many beaches are closed at night to allow the turtles to come ashore and nest. As the sun rises, volunteers patrol the beaches looking for turtle tracks and nests. They report anything significant to a biologist to log any activity and block off any nest.

Large, loggerhead turtles are the main species nesting on these beaches.  Loggerheads only nest every two to three years.  When they do lay eggs, they nest four to seven times, about every two weeks, laying an average of 100 eggs at a time.  Despite these seemingly impressive numbers, only about one in one thousand makes it to adulthood.

Watch can you do?  Do not disturb any wildlife at the beach.  Leave blocked off areas, including flag markings alone.

 

IN THE PHOTO:  Melissa Bernhard, Senior Biologist at Mote Aquarium, logs information on this false crawl.  A loggerhead turtle came ashore, but returned to the water before nesting.  Humans, lights and other activities can easily disturb sea turtles.

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