Every year Sanibel Islanders and visitors get all excited at the beginning of Turtle Season on Sanibel… and then the waiting starts. Turtles usually appear overnight to bury their clutch of eggs. When the morning comes the Turtle Patrol, local animal conservation groups and organizations, monitor the activity and place the protective barriers around the new nests. And then we wait!
Later in the Summer is the time where all this activity comes to a head and the newborn turtles make their way out of the sands, scrambling to get up to the surface and out to the water. This is the second half of the critical call to locals and visitors alike to keep the lights off on the beach because the babies are attracted to reflections in the water and may get confused by artificial lighting. If they head towards an artificial light, it may lead them away from the beach and cause exhaustion and distress that may ultimately take their lives before they reach the life giving seas.
Turtle nesting has been monitored on Sanibel Island since the 1950’s making it one of the longest turtle monitoring study in the history of the United States. The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) Is the entity that tackles more than 18 miles of beach daily to complete this daunting task!
Please use their helpful list to keep our beaches sea turtle friendly.
- Turn off or shield all lights that are visible from the beach.
- Do not use flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach. If necessary, use amber or red LED bulbs
- Do not disturb the screens covering nests. They prevent eggs from being eaten by predators and the hatchlings emerge through the holes without assistance
- Remove all beach furniture and equipment from the beach at night
- Dispose of fishing line properly to avoid wildlife entanglement
- Fill in large holes that can trap hatchlings
- Do not disturb nesting turtles – please do not to get too close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles
- Pick up litter
If we all work together to keep our sea turtles safe and comfortable, we’re sure to enjoy this magnificent creature’s presence on Sanibel Island for years to come!