Sea Turtles in Sarasota County Florida
Turtle nesting season begins May 1. The odds of a sea turtle reaching sexual maturity at about age 30 and being able to continue the species is less than one in 1,000. People can help -- or hurt.
In the dark of night, the loggerhead sea turtle crawls out of the gulf onto a Venice beach. Often weighing 150 pounds or more, the giant creature is returning to the beach where it was hatched some 30 years earlier. ..provided that suitable beaches remain. Pulling its heavy body toward the dunes, the female turtle pauses regularly,looking and listening for signs of danger. Noise, movement and lights can deter its progress, often resulting in a false crawl and no nest. There will be 100 or more eggs laid, which the female will completely cover with sand before returning to the sea.
During the season, despite mating just once, the female may return to shore several times, filling four or five nests with eggs. In the morning, Mote volunteers walking the beach will see the tell-tale tracks in the sand, find the well-camouflaged bump hiding the nest, dig down to determine there are eggs, mark the site and stake and cage the nest to protect it from predators. About 60 days later, the hatchlings will crawl out of the nests and, by dark of night, scamper into the sea.
The actions of humans pose the greatest threat to turtles. From May 1 to Oct. 31, humans need to give the turtles space, privacy -- and darkness. Make sand castles during the day, but knock them down before you leave the beach. Take chairs and lounges with you when you leave the beach for the day and, if you come back at night, do not use any lights -- no flashlights, no cigarette lighters, not even a lit cigarette. Should you see a nesting or hatchling turtle, do not touch it. Stay back out of its sight.
The best thing is to avoid the beaches at night and, if you live near the beach, make sure your lights do not shine towards the beach if you have nests nearby!
Enjoy these magnificent creatures; they are our treasure.