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Help Sea Turtles by Keeping SoWal Beaches Clean & Dark

June 17, 2020 by SoWal Staff

South Walton beaches are a go-to destination for summer fun and for sea turtles. On our amazing white sands, several species of sea turtles return each year to build a nest and lay their eggs.

It’s sea turtle nesting season once again and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding beachgoers to take precautions that can help protect these federally threatened and endangered marine reptiles.

Most sea turtles in Florida nest at night and keeping beaches dark will help ensure their nesting success. Bright artificial lighting can misdirect and disturb nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings, leading them away from the gulf and toward potential danger, so please avoid using flashlights or cellphones at night.

For beachfront property owners and those visiting beachfront properties, turning out lights or closing curtains after dark will ensure nesting turtles are not disturbed as they come ashore and hatchlings will not become disoriented when they emerge from their nests. If lighting is still visible from the beach, be sure it is long, low and shielded

It’s also important to make sure that sea turtles have a clear path to and from the ocean. Before you leave the beach, you can help by properly disposing of all trash, filling in holes in the sand, and putting away boats, beach toys and furniture. If these obstacles are left behind, turtles can become trapped.

If your trip to the beach includes fishing, you can help beach wildlife by making sure to properly dispose of your line. Discarded line can be deadly to sea turtles, shorebirds and other animals. To find a monofilament recycling station near you, visit mrrp.myfwc.com.

While most Florida beaches are open, some have restrictions. People accessing open public beaches should follow CDC guidance by limiting their gatherings to no more than 10 people and distancing themselves from other parties by at least 6 feet.

“The actions we take when visiting the beach can make a big difference for sea turtles,” said Dr. Robbin Trindell, who heads the FWC’s sea turtle management program. “By keeping beaches dark and clearing the way at the end of the day, we can help ensure that these amazing animals are here for future generations to enjoy.”

Other ways to help sea turtles include reporting those that are sick, injured, entangled or dead to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Purchasing a “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” Florida license plate contributes to sea turtle research, rescue and conservation efforts. You can donate $5 and receive an FWC sea turtle decal.

For more information, see the FWC’s “Be a Beach Hero” brochure or visit  MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle.

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