What to Do: Sea Turtle Season on Anna Maria Island
It’s that time of year again! The magical nesting season experience for sea turtles stopping by our Anna Maria Island beaches. That, of course, means it’s our time to remind you of the vital parts we play in this and what you can do to ensure the safety of these important and irreplaceable animals. Sea turtles are under a steady threat, and much of it has to do with humans. We love to attract visitors to our Anna Maria Island vacation rentals to see the amazing sea turtles, but we treasure them and take this responsibility of residents on wild and wonderful land seriously.
Did you know about 90% of all sea turtles nesting in the United States take place right here in Florida? Sea turtles clearly play an important role in our marine ecosystems. Each sea turtle species uniquely affects the diversity, habitat, and functionality of its environment.
From May to October— Sea Turtles, visiting summer guests, and island residents share AMI and call this island home. It’s important that we all live in harmony together. Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring (AMITW) identified and marked six turtle nests in just the first week of nesting season, which runs through the end of October.
These nests are just the beginning; hundreds more are expected this year, which will result in tens of thousands of hatchlings. To maximize their chances of survival, the best thing to do is eliminate obstacles created by humans.
Checklist from AMI Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring:
– Lights out at 8 pm. Flashlights (and yes, including the lights on your cellphone) are strongly discouraged as they can disorientate nesting females and emerging hatchlings!
– Leave only your footprints! Of course, we want you to enjoy your time on the beach, but large holes and sandcastles are huge obstacles for our flippered friends. Nesting females can easily get stuck in a hole, and emerging hatchlings could easily get confused by a sandcastle. Please, please fill your holes before leaving the beach or fill any surrounding holes you may have seen left behind.
– Don’t trash where you splash! This one is year-round; always carry out what you carry in. Keep our beaches clean, and pick up trash.
– While boating, it’s a good idea to wear polarized sunglasses to see better into the water. Appoint a wildlife spotter on your boat to keep watch for sea turtles and manatees!
– Never approach sea turtles emerging from or returning to the sea. Our females are exhausted and have traveled thousands of miles to return home to nest. If you see a nest, please leave it be.
If you see people disturbing turtles, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
More info or to donate: HERE
Thank you for helping care for our sea turtle friends, community, and environment!
Photos from Pexels.com