It’s that time of year again.. sea turtle nesting season! Female sea turtles will come ashore to lay several nests full of eggs, which will incubate and hatch in approximately 60 days. The season officially ends in August, but hatchlings have been known to emerge as late as October.
According to data collected in 2012, the Jupiter area had some of the highest concentrations of nests in the county – including those of loggerhead, green and leatherback sea turtles. Wondering what you can do to protect Jupiter sea turtles? Here are 5 tips to follow:
1. Turn down the lights. You may already know that sea turtle hatchlings are drawn to light. What you may not know is that even indoor lights, motion sensor lights and decorative fixtures can be a danger. Be sure to turn off, reposition or shield any lights visible from the beach and swap out bright, high-intensity bulbs for low wattage ones in yellow or red hues. Inside the house, be sure to close curtains and turn off any unnecessary lights.
2. Create a buffer. Live on or right near the beach? Another way to prevent ambient light from reaching the beach is to plant or maintain trees, bushes or other vegetation between the lights and the sand. Whenever possible, plant native species, such as sea grape.
3. Keep your distance. If you’re lucky enough to observe a female nesting, hatchlings returning to sea or if you spot a sea turtle nest (you may notice disturbed sand, tracks or a pit – or the area may be marked with a sign), DO NOT approach it. Keep your distance and do not use flashlights or flash photography, as this may disorient the turtles.
4. Play during the day. Get your fill of sun, sand and surf during the day – try to stay off the beach at night, when females are nesting and hatchlings are active.
5. Report injured turtles. If you see a deceased or injured turtle, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission as soon as possible at 1-888-404-FWCC or *FWC. Make note of the turtle’s location, size and extent of her injuries.
Let’s do what we can to respect these beautiful creatures. After all, they’ve chosen Jupiter as their home beach – just like you!