Officials say federally protected turtle species under slow start to nesting season

Human disturbance playing a part, but not fully responsible, according to officials

Sea Turtle Nesting Season Underway
Sea Turtle Nesting Season Underway

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sea turtle nesting season is underway in Florida. From May through October, endangered sea turtles build nests in the sand and hatchlings eventually make their way ocean.

However, Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol said they are seeing more false crawls than nests this year.

“A false crawl is when the turtle comes up on the beach, makes a turn, possible pit and then decides not to do it and goes back into the water,” Kevin Brown, a volunteer for the Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol, said.

Several variables can cause a false crawl. Not all of them are because of human disturbance.

"The simple one is she's not ready, she didn't like where she was. We would like to have an explanation for that but there really isn't one," said Brown. "On the minor side of that, people. If anybody is down there when one is nesting and there are flashes or disturbances, she may get a little spooked and decide to go back."

So far this season, Brown said there are 23 nests including two leatherback nests. If you want to help turtles through the nesting season, there are things you can do. Brown said people can fill up holes at the beach, clean up any trash, and keep lights off at night.

“The bottom line is this is a protected species, federally and state,” said Brown. “The main thing when you study a species is, it really tells you the condition of the ocean. If you’ve got healthy animals, then you’ve got a healthy ocean.”

Sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act and only those with special permits are allowed to touch the nests, turtles, or hatchlings.

There is a $2,500.00 reward for information leading to the conviction of violators. To report a violation, contact a state, federal, or local law enforcement officer.

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