(SEA TURTLES/OCEAN CONSERVATION) FLORIDA — With sea turtle nesting season in full effect, it’s important to take caution as we share the beaches with these endangered animals.

From March through October, sea turtles emerge from the surf at night to lay their eggs in the sand, then return to sea. Two months later, about a hundred baby turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests and crawl to the ocean.

These hatchlings are particularly vulnerable so it’s crucial that residents and visitors alike do their part to ensure sea turtles have a safe and successful nesting season.

Check out the tips below, courtesy of Loggerhead Marinelife Center, on how to protect sea turtles during nesting season. — Global Animal

Endangered Baby Sea Turtles
Unlike other sea turtles, female Kemp’s ridley turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in the daylight hours. The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle is the most endangered sea turtle in the world. Photo Credit: Bill Curtsinger

Jupiter Magazine, Lyssa Goldberg

Sea turtle nesting season is officially underway, and that means we should once again take caution as we share our shorelines with these endangered sea creatures.

Nesting season runs from March through the end of October, but it kicked off a bit early this year with the first leatherback sea turtle nest of the season found in Juno Beach in late February. The nest—considered to be the first in Florida and likely the United States —is the earliest documented by Loggerhead Marinelife Center in the area since 2006.

Coming off a record-setting sea turtle nesting season in the Jupiter and Juno Beach areas in 2015, we’re hoping for another strong showing this year. And while that’s mostly up to the sea turtles, beachgoers can help do their part as well.

Here are a few tips from Loggerhead Marinelife Center on how to protect the sea turtles that nest on our beaches:

Photo Credit: Loggerhead Marinelife Center

1. Don’t interact with or disrupt a nesting sea turtle.

Observe the turtle from behind and from a distance.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Erik Hersman

2. Don’t use shovels to dig on the beach during nesting season.

Fill in holes in the sand, knock down sand castles, and throw away debris which may obstruct a sea turtle’s path to and from the ocean.

Photo Credit: via Flickr/Florida Fish and Wildlife

3. Don’t use lighting on the beach at night.

Avoid flashlights, lanterns, flash photography and cell phones at night. Where needed, install sea turtle-friendly lighting, such as red, amber and orange lights.

Photo Credit: Loggerhead Marinelife Center

4. Don’t take or touch empty egg shells, or exposed, un-hatched eggs.

Handling sea turtle eggs can introduce bacteria into the nest or harm the eggs.

Photo Credit: via Flickr/Jeroen Looyé

5. Don’t touch hatchlings on their way to the ocean.

It is illegal to harm or harass sea turtles, their nests or hatchlings. Sea turtles are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973 and Florida Statute Chapter 370.

Photo Credit: via Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region

6. Seek help for any lost hatchlings.

Look out for disoriented hatchlings on trails and roads near the beach. Bring weak or confused hatchlings to Loggerhead Marinelife Center, 24 hours a day, at 14200 U.S. Highway 1, Juno Beach.

More Jupiter Magazine: https://www.jupitermag.com/noteworthy/loggerhead-marinelife-center-shares-tips-keeping-our-sea-turtles-safe-during-nesting