According to Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), ‘HANDS OFF’ is the best policy for beachgoers encountering sea turtle hatchlings or sea turtles coming ashore to nest. Do Not EVER Touch Sea Turtles! They are Endangered! It’s State and Federal Law!
Soon to emerge are the first sea turtle hatchlings this season in Marco from the clutch deposited during the week of April 21-27th—Marco had 5 new nests that week. Nest #1 is precariously close to the waterline opposite the Crescent Beach Condos.
According to FWC sea turtle monitor Yesi Olvera, we now have 49 nests on our main beach and Sand Dollar and 8 nests on Hideaway. The nests on Hideaway are also due to hatch. We are entering the critical time of the season for hatchlings.
Hatchlings usually emerge from their nest at night when temperatures are cooler. This temperature cue prompts them to emerge primarily at night, although some late-afternoon and early-morning emergences have been documented.
Bright artificial lights near shore can cause hatchlings to become disoriented and wander inland. Last year on Marco, hatchlings were found lost in the dune vegetation, some were eaten by predators, and others found at condo parking lots and pool areas.
According to Dr. Robin Trindell of the FWC’s sea turtle management program, even a well-meaning attempt to rescue a sea turtle hatchling can do more harm than good. Digging into a sea turtle nest, entering posted areas or picking up a hatchling for a photo are all against the law. According to Trindell, “The best way to help hatchlings is to turn off any artificial lighting on the beach at night or at least keep it shielded. If you see hatchlings—watch from a distance and never use flash photos.”
If you come across a hatchling that is wandering in a road, parking lot, or directions other than the water, a sea turtle that is stranded or dead, or if you see someone disturbing a nest or turtle, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement at 1-888-404-FWCC or *FWC from your cell phone. Locally, please call MIPD non-emergency number at 239-389-5050.