Sea Turtle Awareness

posted Mar 12, 2010, 5:53 PM by   [ updated Mar 12, 2010, 6:36 PM ]
Sea turtle nesting and hatchling season begins in late March and will continue through October. Chapter 370 of Florida Statutes and the United States Endangered Species Act of 1973 protects sea turtles. Briefly, these laws state that: "No person may take, harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or attempt to engage in any such conduct to marine turtles, turtle nests, and/or turtle eggs." Any person who knowingly violates any provision of the act may be assessed civil penalties up to $25,000 or a criminal penalty up to $100,000 and up to one-year imprisonment. If you see someone harassing a sea turtle or poaching a nest, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922. In order to protect sea turtles during nesting and hatching season, the City of Fort Lauderdale adopted Sec. 6-45 of the Code of Ordinances to reduce the impacts of artificial lighting on threatened and endangered sea turtles that nest on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The ordinance restricts artificial lighting that disorients turtles, which causes them to crawl toward land rather than toward the ocean. These regulations are in effect during both the nesting and hatching season (March - October).
What can you do to help?
Be certain all external light fixtures are designed and positioned as low as possible so the source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach. If there is a sand dune adjacent to your property, be sure that the seaward side of the dune is not illuminated and that light does not extend beyond the sand dune. If you have security or safety lights near the beach, build shades around the light so the beach is not directly illuminated. Consider using motion detector lights to further reduce any potential beach lighting. Special lighting fixtures with long wavelength light sources such as amber and red can be utilized for beachfront properties. Do not dispose of anything in the ocean, especially plastic bags. In the ocean, plastic bags very closely resemble jellyfish, which is a favorite food of sea turtles. If eaten the plastic will cause death or illness to the turtle. Stay clear of marked sea turtle nests on the beach. Disturbing a sea turtle nest is a violation of State and Federal laws.