Without the support of the general public, the survival of sea turtles on our planet is doubtful. Here are some ways the concerned and interested citizen can help the cause:
- Refrain from walking on the beach at night during the summer months (April through August) as much as possible. No matter how quiet, humans will often, and unknowingly, frighten nesting sea turtles back into the sea.
- Never interfere with hatchlings emerging from nests or walking along the beach towards the water. They have their natural ability to walk to the water from what seems like long distances for such small animals. By interfering with this trek, you are not helping these babies gain the information and skills they need to survive and return as adults.
- Never keep baby or newly hatched sea turtles in aquariums or buckets of water. This triggers their swimming reflex and uses up the energy reserves they need to swim out into the ocean.
- Nests that are laid in areas with a lot of light pollution have the risk of the hatchlings disorienting. However, there are trained, permitted turtle workers out on the beach at night to help protect them and steer them back toward the ocean. Let the permitted professionals take care of redirecting and releasing the turtles!
- Keep bright lights from shining onto the beach. If you have security or safety lights near the beach, build shades around the light so the beach is not directly illuminated. Hatchlings can be disoriented by the bright lights. Contact Broward County Environmental Protection Department for information regarding any local lighting ordinance and available options for compliance.
- If you see someone harassing a sea turtle or poaching a nest, please call the local police.
- Do not dispose of plastic bags in the ocean. Plastic bags in the ocean very closely resemble a favorite food of sea turtles (jellyfish) and can cause illness or death to the turtle that eats them. Other harmful objects include balloons, 6-pack rings, monofilament fishing lines and cigarette butts.
- Stay clear of marked sea turtle nests on the beach.
- Never use flashlights, flash photography or video camera lights on nesting turtles or hatchlings. Lights can cause disorientation of nesting turtles and hatchlings.
Disturbing a sea turtle nest is a violation of State and Federal laws.