Daytona Beach, FL - Volusia County could reach 1,000 sea turtle nests on the beaches this year according to Volusia Forever Activity Manager Rob Walsh. As of yesterday (July 22) the count is 747 Loggerheads, 41 Greens, 3 Leatherbacks, and 3 Kemps Ridleys. Walsh said the nesting season continues through the month of August which is why he feels we could see 1,000 nests.
Sea turtle hatchlings from nests made in May are already digging out and making their way into the ocean. Digging out can take days and once they make it to the surface they’re vulnerable to predators and anything that distracts them from what should be a straight shot to the sea.
Walsh said if you do see hatchlings when you're walking the beach, leave them alone. If it's night and you're using a flashlight or cell phone to see, shut them off.
Any visible unnatural lights (like lights on houses, hotels, condos, businesses, and even lights from a cell phone or camera) can disorient nesting adult females but are even more harmful to hatchlings. Once they make it to the surface they use the reflection of star-light and moon-light to orient themselves towards the water. If they see unnatural light, they may become confused and head towards land.
Walsh said the hatchlings are making their way out to the Sargasso Sea, some 30 miles off the beach, where hatchlings have food and shelter.
Remember, digging into a sea turtle nest, entering a posted area, or picking up a sea turtle hatchling to take a photo is against the law, though Walsh said if you do see a hatchling entangled in seaweed onshore you should take it to a lifeguard so it can be taken to the Marine Science Center
To learn more about Volusia County’s sea turtle program call 386-238-4668, or go to VolusiaSeaTurtles.org. To learn more about lighting on the beach and how it impacts nesting sea turtles and hatchlings click here or call 386-238-4773.