The annual nesting season for Loggerhead Sea Turtles has begun! From May 1st through October 31st, female sea turtles come ashore, lay their eggs and by the end of October, their babies should have hatched and scurried off to sea. Female sea turtles only come out of the the water to nest, but only every two to three years. When they do nest, they can lay three to five nests in one season, averaging 100 eggs per nest.
Female Loggerheads can be quite picky when deciding where to nest. Often times, debris along beaches, artificial lighting or simply lack of a perfect location will send the female back to the water without laying a single egg. This is termed a “false crawl.” In order to help reduce false crawls, Marco Island strictly enforces Ordinance 01-35 (Sea Turtle Protection), Ordinance 99-7 (Lighting Regulations), and Ordinance 08-14 (Beach Ordinance). The city’s ordinances include:
Any lights visible to the beach after 9 PM should be turned off, shielded, or otherwise modified between the dates of May 01 through October31.
Outside lights that can not be turned off for safety reasons can be temporarily shielded with foil, hoods or painted with black heat resistant oven paint on the beach-facing side.
Low wattage yellow lights (preferably low pressure sodium vapor lights) are less attractive to sea turtles and good replacements for white lights.
Closed blinds and curtains can shield bright interior lights that normally shine onto the beach.
Outside wall and ceiling balcony lights should be off by 9 PM.
To ensure compliance, property managers, beach vendors, and/or residents, please step out on the beach at 9 PM, view the building or vendor area to determine what lights need shading or turned off. If you can see the direct light or your shadow on the beach, the light is too bright!
The sea turtles need a beach free of any barriers that would prevent nesting. Beach furniture, toys, tents, any other equipment and all garbage should be removed from the beach EVERY night.
If you witness a turtle crawling out of the ocean or digging a nest, remain quiet and at a distance and neverstop a turtle that is returning to the water. Movements and noises can easily frighten a female sea turtle and prevent nesting. Using flash photography or a mobile phone camera can scare the nesting turtle and prevent her from nesting.
No flashlights, flash photography or cell phone lights should be used on the beach and lights should never be pointed at sea turtles or to light a nest. No fires or torches on the beach.
Holes or trenches dug on the beach by beach-goers need to be filled in at the end of each day or by 9 PM. Adult sea turtles can get caught or disoriented and hatchlings get trapped in the holes or trenches, never making it to the Gulf. The holes are also safety hazards for beach goers, sea turtle monitors, and emergency response staff.
To report dead or injured sea turtles or disoriented hatchlings, please immediately call Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC) and the Marco Island Sea Turtle Monitor, Mary Nelson: Mobile # 239-289-9736.