Volusia County, FL – Volusia County Government is reminding residents and visitors to be respectful and accommodating of coastal wildlife as hundreds of sea turtles prepare to come ashore to lay eggs as part of their nesting season that begins on May 1.
Sea turtle eggs typically incubate in the sand for two months. When they hatch, the baby sea turtles begin their journey towards the sea, which requires them to navigate around predators, holes, trash, and beach furniture. According to the County, sea turtles can become endangered by beachfront lighting. Typically, only one in 1,000 to 10,000 sea turtles will reach sexual maturity.
“We need everybody’s help to make this a safe and productive nesting season,” said sea turtle Habitat Conservation Plan program manager for Volusia County, Jennifer Winters. “We encourage residents and visitors to respect our wildlife and ‘let the night provide the light.’”
“Artificial lighting is a human-made threat we can correct with minimal effort,” said Winters. “Bright lights can prevent females from nesting, and they can confuse hatchlings – leading them away from the ocean and into the streets or storm drains. By simply redirecting lights away from the beach and turning them off when not in use, beachfront residents can help sea turtles survive.”
Coastal residents are reminded that during nesting season, they are required to turn off, shield, or redirect lights that shine on the beach. Throughout the year, the Volusia County Environmental Management Division educates beachfront home and property owners about the sea turtle lighting ordinance.
The County also provided the following steps residents and visitors can take to help protect and save the lives of sea turtles:
- Never touch or disturb a sea turtle nest or try to help a hatchling towards the ocean.
- Never disturb dunes or plants and make sure to only use designated beach access points.
- Only use designated traffic lanes while driving on the beach. During sea turtle season, beach driving access hours are between 8 AM and 7 PM, tide permitting.
- Never use cell phones to light your way or use flash photography during nesting season.
- Only use red LED flashlights as they are less noticeable to sea turtles.
- Always flatten sandcastles, fill in holes, and collect your belongings and beach furniture after a day at the beach. Removing obstacles can make a sea turtle’s treacherous journey easier.
- Always dispose of trash and recyclables in trash cans and recycle bins. Trash can attract predators to the beach.
- Never use fireworks at the beach as they are prohibited and can be disruptive to sea turtles.
If you see a nesting sea turtle or sea turtle hatchlings, make sure to only admire them from a distance. Beachgoers are urged to stand far away, remain calm, and watch quietly. If you notice that a sea turtle is in immediate danger, inform a lifeguard or beach safety officer or contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-3922.
The sea turtle nesting season will continue through October 31. Typically, 400 to 500 nests are laid in Volusia County. Last year, 720 nests were recorded.
For additional information on the County’s sea turtle program call 386-238-4716, 238-4668, or visit www.volusiaseaturtles.org. If you have questions about beach lighting, call 386-238-4773.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.