Following the Sea Turtle Symposium, Ms. Veronica Caceres, the International Sea Turtle Secretariat, distributed her list of pointers for beach visitors interested in the protection of sea turtles. She encouraged those in the Stetson audience to both enjoy and volunteer to protect hatching sea turtles—an exciting and moving experience. She cautioned, however, that the greatest help for these creatures is to be wary of nests and to educate others in how to let nature take its course unmolested.
These are the top five guards against the widespread destruction of sea turtle nests.
1.) Avoid damaging incubating nests: most sea turtle nests require fifty to sixty days of incubation and can be difficult to spot well into the incubation period.
2.) Be sure not to leave large items such as beachfront chairs, camping equipment, or recreational setups on nesting beaches during the night in season. These can obstruct a turtle’s path and prevent egg laying.
3.) Keep pets, especially dogs, off of nesting beaches in the nesting season for they can frighten sea turtles or prevent nesting.
4.) Limit commercial beach lighting. Artificial light can disorient turtles and send hatchlings walking toward developments instead of out to the water. Most researchers believe that sea turtles are most receptive to higher-energy blue and green lights that attract them to the surf. Also, don’t use flashlights or flash photography around sea turtles, as bright lights temporarily blind them.
5.) Be careful not to approach nesting sea turtles as they are exciting the sea. This is when they are most easily frightened and likely to flee back out from the coast. Also don’t interfere with hatchlings crawl to the beach; doing so might prevent them from relocating to the same beach once they reach maturity.