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FWC To Florida Beachgoers: During This Critical Time, Leave Sea Turtle Hatchlings Alone

Tonya Long
FWC's Flickr
Loggerhead Hatchlings

Florida is in the last few months of its sea turtle nesting season. State wildlife officials say during this critical time for the hatchlings, it’s important the public leaves them alone.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is getting increasing reports of people interacting with sea turtle hatchlings.

“It’s great that people love to go out and try to see the sea turtles, but they’re causing more harm than good, when they shine lights, or take flash photos or pick up these animals, which is against the law,” said Robbin Trindell, who leads the FWC’s sea turtle management program. “So, we are getting more reports of incidents of people who are going out and trying to actively interact with these animals. They’re posting things on Facebook and social media.”

And, Trindell says it’s best to take a “hands off” approach.

“You watch from a distance, you don’t take flash photos, you don’t use your cell phone, you just try to enjoy this in the dark, quiet night, as it was meant to be,” she added.

Sea turtle hatchlings can be seen on all the sandy beaches across Florida. While most nests are in the South Florida area, Trindell says they are seeing more of these inappropriate interactions in the Panhandle.

But, she it’s not completely the violators’ fault. The head of the FWC’s sea turtle management program says sea turtle programs are fairly new in the Panhandle, compared to other parts of the state.

“Those programs have been in parts of the state at the end of the 1980s, but the Panhandle, the programs have only started in the mid-1990s,” continued Trindell. “So, people just weren’t aware of the importance of the Panhandle beaches for nesting loggerheads. And, recently, we’ve seen increasing numbers of green turtles throughout the state, and we’re also seeing those in the Panhandle as well. So, it’s just that the Panhandle was recognized as a turtle nesting area much later.”

October is the last month of sea turtle nesting season.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.