CAPE SAN BLAS, Fla. (WMBB) — Panhandle residents are accustomed to sharing their beaches with visitors from around the world, but every summer, they must also make way for unique visitors from the Gulf: nesting sea turtles.
Sea turtle nesting season officially began May 1 and will continue until October 31.
Florida Coastal Conservancy Direcotr, Jessica Swindall, said the emphasis for ensuring a successful nesting season is to keep beaches clean, flat and dark.
Keeping beaches clean and flat involves removing trash and belongings, especially items like plastics and trash, and filling in any large holes left from umbrellas, fishing equipment or sandcastles.
Swindall said beach lighting, or keeping the beaches dark, is one of the major concerns this season. The bright, white lights of street lights and houses near the sand can disorient nesting turtles and hatchlings, causing them to have trouble finding their way back to the water.
Interrupting their pathways also leads to exposure to predators, or turtles ending up in pools, backyards and even highways, according to the Florida Coastal Conservancy.
Anyone interested in keeping the beaches dark can install turtle friendly lights or make sure to turn off lights and close blinds at night from May until October.
Protecting nests and providing public education also comes from Florida Coastal Conservancy’s “Adopt a Nest” effort, which gives anyone the opportunity to fund a nest and donate to the conservation and education of nesting season.