Rules to live by during Anna Maria Island Sea Turtle Season

This is our list of rules to live by during Anna Maria Island Sea Turtle Season! 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.

Green Sea Turtle
Green Turtle on Anna Maria Island. Photo Credit to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Facebook page contributed by Kathy Doddridge

 

Anna Maria Island Sea Turtle Season

– 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.

Sea Turtle hatchling

– 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.

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch

Anna Maria Island – Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch monitors the nesting activities of sea turtles and shorebirds from May 1st – October 31st. It is the mission of the AMI Turtle watch to insure a suitable habitat for people, sea turtles and shorebirds.

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch Excavations

When their season is winding down, and almost all the nests have hatched AMI Turtle watch will still have some excavations.  The excavation is conducted three days after hatchlings emerge, and they count empty shells, whole un-hatched eggs, and occasionally rescue a trapped hatchling and return it to the Gulf.  The excavations are usually at 7:30 pm (depending on weather).  If you call they may be able to show you an excavation.

Anna Maria Island Turtles Need the Dark

Nesting sea turtles depend on dark quiet beaches to reproduce successfully. Today these turtles are endangered in part because they must compete with tourists, businesses, and coastal residents to use the beach.  Man-made coastal developments may result in artificial lighting on the beach that discourages female sea turtles from nesting and can disorient hatchlings. The light may cause them to  wander away from the beach where they often die of dehydration, predation, or being run over as they try to cross the road.

Here Are A Few Ways You Can Help Sea Turtles:

Minimize lighting visible from sea turtle nesting beaches, and use Turtle Safe lighting.

Avoid using flashlights or flash cameras. Lights disrupt or disorient nesting turtles and emerging hatchlings.

Stepping on hatchlings is easy in the dark, so avoid nesting areas.

Do not drive any unauthorized vehicles on the beach at night.

Turn off or shield lights visible from nesting beaches.

If disoriented hatchlings are found away from the sea, do not put them back in the sea.  Call AMITW 941 778 5638 or local law enforcement.

Pick up litter, fill in holes and never leave furniture or debris lying on the beach. Adopt-a-Hatchling or Adopt-a-Nest through IslandTurtles.com to help raise awareness.