Anna Maria Island – Every year between May 1st and October 31st hundreds of turtles crawl up onto the Anna Maria Island beaches and lay thousands of eggs. Once these eggs hatch tiny turtles emerge, scurry to the water, and begin the unimaginably difficult journey through gulf waters. If they are lucky to survive these early stages of life, females of the five Anna Maria Island turtle species will come back each year to lay their own eggs. Here are some important rules to follow to make sure they aren’t disturbed as they start their lives.
– Turn off outdoor lights that are visible from the beach at night. They can be disorienting to nesting and hatching sea turtles.
– Don’t aim camera flashes at the Sea Turtles.
– Don’t use flashlights or other light sources at night on the beach.
– Remove chairs, umbrellas, tents, grills and all objects from the beach at night.
– Fill in holes dug in the sand so that nesting and hatching turtles don’t get trapped.
– If you see a nesting or hatching turtle, be quiet and don’t touch it under any circumstance.
– Again, don’t touch the Sea Turtles.
– Watch for Sea Turtles and Manatee’s while boating.
– Stay away from the staked nesting areas along the beach.(This applies to the staked bird nesting areas too)
– Don’t chase the birds.
– Dispose of fishing line, hooks, plastic bags and other trash.
– No fireworks, balloons or sky lanterns from the beach. The debris is dangerous to the turtles, birds and other wildlife.
For emergencies or questions about Sea Turtles, birds and other wildlife, call the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring organization at 941-778-5638, or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-3922.