Conservationists remind beachgoers to be mindful of sea turtles

FORT MYERS BEACH, Florida – Sea turtle breeding season is in full swing, which means lots of nests are popping up on a beach near you.

And conservationists are taking this time to remind beachgoers to be a little more aware of where they’re stepping.

“We are in turtle season and we are going with great weapons today!”

It is not uncommon to find beachgoers on the white sands of Fort Myers Beach. But nestled between the dunes and bulrush, you’ll find barriers, meaning sea turtle nesting season is in full swing.

“Each year from May to October, someone walks by every morning and reports on any turtle activity they may have seen,” said Mary Rose Spalletta, a volunteer at Turtle Time, Inc.

Turtle Time, Inc. is a local non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles. Spalletta now says – more than ever – that those who go to the beach should be aware of their surroundings.

“We know we have quite a few loggerheads who want to come and nest here,” she says. “The question is how many nests we will have them lay this year and it’s really up to us. That’s all we ask is cooperation.”

So far this year, the group recorded 75 sea turtle nests along Fort Myers Beach. One of these was captured on video last week.

The group also notices a trend called false crawls, meaning a turtle comes to the beach but doesn’t lay eggs. This has happened more than 100 times this year.

“We think part of that is because we have minor violations on the beach,” Spalletta said. “These sea turtles are very sensitive to white light, so we have a rule that white lights are not allowed on the beach, but unfortunately not everyone knows that.”

Things like filling holes and collecting beach furniture or garbage.

“Water quality, bay, beach, wildlife, plants, yes…”

Also to help spread the word – the Marine Environmental Resource Task Force.

“Sometimes you have people who live here and are very familiar with wildlife and the bay and the beach,” says Jennifer Rusk of Fort Myers Beach’s Marine Environmental Resource Task Force. “And then you have people who just got off the plane.”

It’s information and displays that get the word out. Creating a balanced ecosystem for all walks of life.

“We’ve got those sea turtles out there,” Spalletta says. “They do their best to keep our ecosystem thriving and they ask only minimal cooperation from us.”

If you encounter an injured or nesting sea turtle, please contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC.

You may also contact Turtle Time, Inc. You can find more information about them here online

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