Turtles dig the dark

Turtle season is on!

From now until Halloween, residents and visitors to Anna Maria Island’s Gulf front and Bay front properties can help threatened nesting and hatching loggerhead and green sea turtles survive by turning off or shielding lights that are visible from the beach and changing light bulbs to turtle-friendly bulbs.

Lighting inspections begin this week, Bradenton Beach Code Enforcement Officer Gail Garneau said, adding that property owners and rental agents should take a proactive approach to monitor their properties for compliance during the nesting sea turtle season, including visiting the beach at night to check the visibility of lights.

The city and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring have literature available to provide to lodgers.

Beachgoers also should avoid using flashlights or cellphones at night, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) suggests.

Caring beachgoers can make a significant difference in helping sea turtles survive, said Dr. Robbin Trindell, who heads the FWC’s sea turtle management program.

Lights are not the only issue for turtles.

FWC recommends filling in beach holes, which can entrap nesting and hatching turtles.

In addition, all beach furniture and other beach items must be pulled back behind the dune line from sunset to sunrise to avoid nesting and hatching sea turtles from becoming entangled, Garneau said.

Island cities are required to protect imperiled species such as sea turtles and shorebirds because they have received sand in beach renourishment projects, she said, adding, “The city is mandated to ensure compliance with the regulations and take preventative measures.”

Other ways to help sea turtles include properly disposing of fishing line to avoid entanglements, and reporting those that are sick, injured, entangled or dead to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cellphone.

Purchase a “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” Florida license plate at www.buyaplate.com, which contributes to sea turtle research, rescue and conservation efforts, or donate $5 and receive an FWC sea turtle decal.

You can also adopt a turtle nest from Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.

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