Hurricane Irma interferes with sea turtle season

By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
September 26, 2017

Photo Source: MGN online

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Hurricane Irma’s damage extended beyond the streets of Florida and onto the coast, including thousands of sea turtle nests buried beneath the sand.

In 2017, a record number of sea turtles laid their nests on Florida beaches, and they have been subject to the destruction of Irma.

Florida beaches are home to three different species of sea turtles, the most vulnerable being the green sea turtle. The green sea turtle nests later in the season than other species, and Irma’s storm surge prematurely uncovered hundreds of their nests along Florida’s coasts.

“Both Florida's East and West Coast are very important nesting areas for marine turtles and other wildlife”, said Manley Fuller, President of the Florida Wildlife Federation.

Fortunately, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, sea turtles have adapted to cope with storms.

Dr. Robbin Trindell of the FWC stated, “Each female actually nests serval times during a nesting season because she going to maximize the probability that at least some of those nests will survive.”

But their numbers do take a hit. That’s why the FWC says it’s especially important for people to be extra mindful of our scaly neighbors now.

Many sea turtle nests are marked, but storm surges may have washed away postings. Most importantly, if you happen upon a nesting turtle or hatchlings, leave them be.

Trindell continued, “If there's a little sea turtle crawling towards the water, let it go. It's programed to do what it needs to do and get off shore.”

Additionally, even this late in the season, dimming lights is important. Bright lights disorient sea turtle hatchlings, sending them inland instead of towards the water.

If you live on the coast and need help purchasing dimmer lights for your home, you can receive assistance through the Restoring the Night Sky Grant. You can contact the FWC to see if you qualify.

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