Without the support of the general public, the survival of sea turtles on our planet is doubtful. Here are some ways the concerned and interested citizen can help the cause:
- Refrain from walking on the beach at night during the summer months (April through August) as much as possible. No matter how quiet, humans will often, and unknowingly, frighten nesting sea turtles back into the sea.
- Never interfere with hatchlings emerging from nests or crawling along the beach towards the water. Though small, hatchlings are naturally capable of crawling long distances to the water as soon as they emerge from the nest. By interfering with this trek, you are not only committing a crime (disturbing sea turtles or their nests is against federal and state laws), but you may also be hindering the turtle's ability to learn important environmental cues they'll need to find their way back to their nesting areas later in life!
- Never keep baby or newly hatched sea turtles in aquariums or buckets of water. This triggers their swimming reflex and uses up the energy reserves they need to swim out into the ocean.
- Nests that are laid in areas with a lot of light pollution have the risk of the hatchlings disorienting. However, there are trained, permitted turtle workers out on the beach at night to help protect them and steer them back toward the ocean. Let the permitted professionals take care of redirecting and releasing the turtles!
- Keep bright lights from shining onto the beach. If you have security or safety lights near the beach, build shades around the light so the beach is not directly illuminated. Hatchlings can be disoriented by the bright lights. Contact Broward County Environmental Protection Department for information regarding any local lighting ordinance and available options for compliance.
- If you see someone harassing a sea turtle or poaching a nest, please call the local police.
- Do not dispose of plastic bags in the ocean. Plastic bags in the ocean very closely resemble a favorite food of sea turtles (jellyfish) and can cause illness or death to the turtle that eats them. Other harmful objects include balloons, 6-pack rings, monofilament fishing lines, and cigarette butts.
- Stay clear of marked sea turtle nests on the beach. Disturbing a sea turtle nest is a violation of State and Federal laws.
- Never use flashlights, flash photography, or video camera lights around or directed toward nesting turtles or hatchlings. Lights can cause disorientation of nesting turtles and hatchlings and discourage a female turtle from nesting.