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Prosperity

“Sea Turtles Returning Home To Serene Islands”

August 25, 2022

By Kimmy Foulds

During this annual beautiful and phenomenal Southwest Florida turtle season that is in blossom through October, Loggerhead is the most common marine turtle species to arrive on both quiet and quaint Captiva and Sanibel Barrier Islands, followed by the Green Sea Turtle. Leatherbacks and Kemp’s Ridley turtles are rarer but the families have burrowed on the islands before and instinctively returned to the exact locations after several years.

Over 100 sea turtle nests are on both island beaches of a combined 17 mile stretch open shoreline with Captiva only as wide as 200 yards at low tide while Sanibel is 3 miles wide. Both calm Islands respect the natural landscape to the point of no streetlights. Thus, it is imperative to know how sensitive the sea turtles are to white lights. Everyone can help protect the sea turtles by turning off their lights on the beach by sunset or replacing their white lights with shielded amber LEDs and closing drapes or blinds in homes, vacation cottages in the evenings.

Sea turtles have a strong impulse to go to the brightest horizon. On native beaches, this is the reflection of the moon and stars off the sea. Lights from buildings and spotlights confuse nesting females and hatchlings. Disoriented by the lights, hatchlings will wander away from the safety of the water, toward the lights. A polite reminder is to remove all beach furniture and objects after 8 PM on all beaches.

Respect the buried peaceful turtle cradles and remember to avoid using flashlights or flash photography on the beach at night; and fill in holes that were made in the sand from the day of fun on the beach. Sea turtle adults and hatchlings could fall into the holes in the sand and become trapped to their death or seriously injured for their lifetime.

It is illegal in Florida to touch, ride, dig or remove sea turtles and the eggs in the sand mounds or dunes on beaches. Federal penalties include jail time and thousands of dollars for each offense. Sea turtles are protected under Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Adult sea turtles weigh from 80 pounds to over 1,000 pounds with the average weight of 350 pounds. Sea turtle hatchings are silently resting in their tactful and stilly areas to move miraculously and methodically in their habitual environments.

Sea turtles cannot move in reverse so when a sheltering female encounters an obstacle, she will try to go around it or through it. This can result in entanglement if the barricades are abandoned crab traps, fish gear, beach items, boats, shovels, clothing, towels, litter and large leftover food. Beach police administer hefty violations if they observe fires, BBQs, torches, campers and unleashed dogs on these gorgeous, exposed Barrier Islands for these activities are legally not allowed in order to sustain wildlife and nourishment to the soft powder sandy beaches.

Among many of the oldest sea creatures on earth, the sea turtles have remained unchanged for their magical slow movements and calculated steps. This observance is taken to signify wisdom, patience, longevity, perseverance, steadfastness, protection, retreat, healing, tranquility and transformation as important virtues in life.

Reflect, from sunrise to sunset.

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