FLORIDA (WWSB) – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants beachgoers to remember if they encounter sea turtle hatchlings to leave them alone.
From now through the end of October, hatchlings will be making their way to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
They usually emerge from their nests at night.
“Sea turtle hatchlings are small and appear helpless, so people may make the mistake of thinking they need assistance getting to the water. But you can help hatchlings home by leaving them alone,” said Robbin Trindell, who heads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) sea turtle management program.
“Sea turtle hatchlings are biologically programmed to look for the brightest horizon and walk toward the water,” said Trindell.
Important things that people can do to help sea turtle hatchlings survive:
- Do not try to help hatchlings crawling toward the water. Young sea turtles need to continue their migration to the sea without assistance.
- Leave hatchlings undisturbed and watch them from a distance. Remember, it is illegal to pick up a hatchling, enter a posted nesting area or dig into a nest.
- Remove chairs, canopies and boats and other obstacles from the beach at night, and fill up holes in the sand so hatchlings can make their way unobstructed to the water.
- Refrain from taking flash photos of hatchlings, whether with a cellphone or camera. Do not shine flashlights on hatchlings or their nests.
- Minimize artificial lighting on the beach at night, or at least keep lights shielded. Bright lights on buildings or parking lots along the beach are harmful to hatchlings. The hatchlings head for the bright lights, thinking they are the sparkling sea, and end up walking landward where they may become prey for raccoons, coyotes and other animals or get run over on roads.
Report any hatchlings that are stranded, wandering in a road or parking lot, heading away from the water or dead to the FWC’s 24-hour Wildlife Alert Hotline, 888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC or #FWC on a cellphone.