Sea turtle nesting season gets underway
With our public beaches reopening today, Pinellas County is reminding everyone to keep conditions safe for sea turtles to thrive.
During nesting season, residents and beach visitors should do the following:
Turn off outside lights, draw drapes and avoid using flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
Remove obstacles such as sand castles or sand pits that may make it too difficult for hatchlings to make their way to the shoreline.
Keep the beach clean. Eliminate trash items that may entangle baby hatchlings and adult turtles.
Do not approach or harass adult turtles as they make their way back to sea.
If residents spot turtle tracks or a possible nest, and it does not appear to be protected by stakes or ribbon, call 1-888-404-3922.
Loggerheads are the most common sea turtle to nest in Pinellas County, and females generally nest from early May through August. The eggs in each nest will typically incubate for 50 to 60 days before hatching.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium monitors the beaches from Clearwater Beach through Indian Shores. Sand to Sea Inc. monitors the beaches from Redington Shores through Treasure Island, and Sea Turtle Trackers monitors the beaches of St Pete Beach, Shell Key and Outback Key. Honeymoon Island State Park rangers monitor the nests there.
Staff members conduct early-morning patrols to locate new nesting sites. Citizens should not pick up hatchlings heading toward the water, shine lights or use photo equipment with a flash. Hatchlings use starlight and moonlight reflecting off the water to find their way to the ocean, and if they become misled by artificial light, they can become disoriented and die.
Besides checking the beaches every morning for signs of new nests, nestin