This spot is THE place where you can learn weekly all about the special happenings at our Madeira Beach location, stay up-to-date with your favorite animal friends, and learn what’s new here.
We have a very exciting summer coming up!
While we’re hatching some new ideas and ways to stay in touch with you, there’s another group that’s very special to us doing some hatching of their own.
From May 1 to October 31, the loggerhead, green, leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley, and Hawksbill sea turtles nest in the Sunshine State.
Here in Pinellas County, we most often see loggerhead turtles. Last year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there were a total of 7,793 loggerhead sea turtle nests along the shoreline of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties. Pinellas County was home to 549 of those.
Florida is so important to the continuation of these amazing creatures. In fact, our state had a total of 222,519 sea turtle nests last year!
So what do you need to know about this time of year and our slow-moving friends?
We have a few fun facts and important information about these hard-working mama turtles.
5 Important Things to Know About Nesting Sea Turtles in Pinellas County
- Mama turtles get scared easily. Yes, even a selfie with a flash can be enough to scare her back into the ocean. Please keep your distance. And no, she’s not smiling at you and doesn’t want to be on your Insta page.
- Nesting sea turtles don’t nest in the daytime for good reason–they want it dark. Don’t shine flashlights on them or take pics with flash photography or video equipment. If you have a beach house, or are staying in one, don’t leave the outside lights on this time of year; that even includes uplighting on palm trees and landscaping. Here in Madeira Beach we have lighting ordinances to protect our turtle friends’ privacy.
- Limit your use of single-use plastics such as straws, plastic bags, cups, and others. Turtles can get tangled, consume, wrapped in, and pierced by these items.
- Remove your beach chairs from the beach every night. Mama turtles do a lot of hard work. Loggerheads lay about 110 eggs in a nest at a time, which takes between 1-3 hours, before heading back to the ocean. When they do head back, they don’t need anything in their way that they could become entangled in. Think about when you have a long day at the beach. The last thing you want is to trip over something someone left out.
- Fill in holes and knock down sand castles. Just like we talked about above with the beach chairs, cut mama turtle a break. She doesn’t need any more challenges. It’s dark. Help her out by making sure the path is clear. Just resist the urge to light it for her. She’s not a fame seeker. She just wants to lay her eggs and go back to the water.
Finally, another thing you can do for these sweet mamas is to give them their space. While it’s an amazing miracle to see them scoot out of the tides and trek up the beach, dig a hole, lay eggs, cover them, and then return to the sea, they are very shy.
Remember, these are not pets.
Any interaction with you can be detrimental to their ability or desire to lay their precious eggs. Leave them alone. If you see someone else treating the turtles like a famous YouTuber, stuffed animal, or obstacle in an obstacle course, notify the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Law at 1-888-404-FWCC. You should also notify them if you see a stranded, dead, or wandering hatchling. Hatchlings should head straight for the water. Any other direction and they could be lost but allow the wildlife pros to figure that out.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can help our areas wildlife, stop by our Alligator Attraction where you can view a host of local and invasive species and learn how you can be a good steward of the environment and an animal friend.
You can even see a few other types of turtles, including the world’s smallest type.
So what did you learn today? Take our quick quiz by leaving your answers in the comments below.
This Week’s Alligator Attraction Conservation Knowledge Quiz:
- How many eggs does the average loggerhead turtle lay per nest:
- Which of these shouldn’t be done to/for nesting turtles:
- Give them space
- Remove beach chairs at night
- Turn off outside lights
- Use the turtle as a footstool
- Turtles love: