Sea turtle nesting season – the time of the year when you will come across bright yellow sea turtle nesting signs and stakes, tracks and possibly even sea turtle hatchlings along our local beaches. Since the hatchlings are starting to emerge, Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) has already received their first batch, with many more, up to 2,000, to follow. These hatchlings don’t make it into the ocean for many different reasons, including disorientation, entanglement, predation injuries and weakness. The hatchlings are typically found by LMC biologists while doing their daily beach surveys and by local beach walkers. Most hatchlings are placed in the drop-off cooler outside of the entrance to the center.
Upon arrival, the sea turtles are triaged and examined. It is then determined what their next step will be. If the hatchlings are strong or leatherbacks, they may be released from the beach early the next morning. A hatchling that is weak, injured or debilitated will remain in the hospital for treatment. When they are strong enough to swim, they will be placed in a viewable, outside tank at the center until arrangements are made to release them into the weed line. The weed line, or sargassum, is located between 5-15 nautical miles away from the shore in the Gulf Stream. This floating sargassum is where these hatchlings live for the first several years of their lives.
There are many ways that you can help aid in the rehabilitation and return of these sea turtle hatchlings to their ocean home. You can support sea turtle hatchlings by “adopting” them, which will provide much needed funds for their food, medicine and living conditions. If you’re interested in adopting sea turtle hatchlings, please visit www.marinelife.org/adopt. You can also familiarize yourself with nesting season do’s and don’ts and become an ambassador for these important rules.
- Throw away foreign objects and debris left behind on the beach
- Fill in holes in the sand which may obstruct a sea turtle’s path to and from the ocean
- Observe a nesting sea turtle from a distance from behind
- Look out for disoriented hatchlings on trails and roads near the beach
- Keep your Lights Out near the beach or install sea turtle-friendly lighting
- Bring weak or confused hatchlings to LMC at 14200 US Highway One, Juno Beach, FL 33408
- Don’t interact with or disrupt a nesting sea turtle
- Don’t use lighting on the beach at night including flash photography
- Don’t touch hatchlings on their way to the ocean
- Don’t take any action for empty egg shells, or exposed, un-hatched eggs
- Don’t harm or harass sea turtles, their nests or hatchlings
- Don’t use shovels to dig on the beach during nesting season
While sea turtles are beautiful, captivating creatures, it is illegal to harm or harass sea turtles, their nests or hatchlings. Sea turtles are protected by the US Endangered Species Act of 1973 and Florida Statute Chapter 370.
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About Loggerhead Marinelife Center:
Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a non-profit organization, is committed to the conservation of Florida’s coastal ecosystems through public education, research and rehabilitation with a focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. The center features an on-site campus hospital, learning exhibits and aquariums. Situated on the world’s most important sea turtle nesting beach, Loggerhead Marinelife Center is open daily and hosts over 215,000 visitors each year. For more information, visit www.marinelife.org or call 561-627-8280.