It’s sea turtle nesting season, so here’s how you can help

The key takeaways? Clean up after yourself and avoid using bright lights after dark

File photo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sea turtle nesting season is upon us and state wildlife officials are reminding Floridians to keep our beaches clear of trash and bright lights that could be harmful to hatchlings.

With thousands of sea turtles nesting on beaches throughout the state, it’s important that beachgoers avoid using bright lights including flashlights and cellphones that could disorient turtles and potentially lead them away from the ocean, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The same guidance applies to those who live near the beach. It’s recommended that you switch off lights or shut their curtains after dark to avoid confusing turtle hatchlings.

Besides lighting, another concern for wildlife officials is trash left behind on the beach. Garbage and other discarded items can not only keep sea turtles from nesting, they can create obstacles for turtle hatchlings trying to reach the ocean when they eventually leave their nests.

State wildlife officials suggest throwing your trash away at designated receptacles when you leave the beach, putting away and beach toys or furniture you might otherwise leave out and filling in any holes you’ve made in the sand.

“As beachgoers, we can all do our part to help sea turtles survive,” Dr. Robbin Trindell, who heads the FWC sea turtle management program, said. “By keeping beaches dark and clearing the way at the end of the way, we can help ensure that these amazing animals keep returning to our beautiful state.”

If you see a turtle that looks like it’s sick, injured, stuck or dead, you can contact FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).