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Sea Turtles Suffer Massive Nest Losses Up and Down Florida’s Coasts During Irma

September 26th, 2017 by Jake Stofan

2017 saw a record number of sea turtle’s lay their nests on Florida beaches.

So when Hurricane Irma hit Florida’s coast it didn’t only damage property, it also took its toll on the thousands of sea turtle nests buried beneath the sand.

Florida beaches are home to three different species of sea turtles.

The most vulnerable is the green sea turtle.

It nests later in the season than other species.

Irma’s storm surge prematurely uncovered hundreds of green sea turtle 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.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says sea turtles have adapted to cope with storms.

 

“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,” said Dr. Robbin Trindell, Biological Administrator at the FWC.

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 important, if you happen upon a nesting turtle or hatchlings, leave them be.

 

“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,” said Dr. Trindell.

Even this late in the season, dimming lights is important.

Bright lights disorient sea turtle hatchlings, sending them inland instead of towards the water.

 

“Keep them long wave length and keep them shielded,” said Dr. Trindell.

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.

To inquire about the Restoring the Night Sky Grant, send an e-mail to seaturtlelighting@myfwc.com.

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