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Date of Issue: June 28, 2007

Number of sea turtle false crawls climb

Turtle nesting season precautions

During sea turtle nesting and hatchling season, which began May 1 and continues through Oct. 31, state officials, scientists and volunteers along Florida’s coastlines work to collect data and protect the animals. The turtles’ protectors encourage local residents and volunteers to follow a list of seasonal precautions.

Do:

  • Remain quiet and observe from a distance if you encounter a nesting turtle.
  • Shield or turn off outdoor lights visible on the beach from May through October.
  • Close drapes after dark.
  • Fill in holes on the beach that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water.
  • Place trash in its proper place.
  • Remove beach chairs and other items from the beach from sunrise to sunset.

The number of times a female sea turtle has come ashore to nest but returned without leaving eggs climbed past 70 last week.

By June 24, the number of "false crawls" reported on Anna Maria Island was 71, said Suzi Fox, the director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch. Fox holds the permit for the monitoring and data collection AMITW conducts during nesting season, which began May 1 and continues through October.

AMITW reported an average of eight emergencies a night last week, occasions when federally-protected "nesting moms looking for a place to give birth" were deterred.

Often times, the false crawls are due to beach disturbances or obstacles. Litter and recreational beach equipment - furniture, cabanas, umbrellas, small boats, and beach cycles - can hamper an adult’s laborious journey across the sand and a hatchling’s crawl from a nest to the water.

"Tents, volleyball courts and chairs all need to be taken home at night," Fox said.

AMITW urges people to remove beach gear at night. Codes in Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach require the removal of items at night.

Municipal codes also require that during nesting season, lighting must be adjusted during the season to make sure it does not directly or indirectly illuminate the beach from sunset to sunrise. Lights may disorient the turtles.

To contact Holmes Beach’s code enforcement department in regards to turtle season, call 941-708-5800, ext. 21.

To contact Anna Maria’s code enforcement department, call 941-708-6132, ext. 29.

To contact Bradenton Beach’s code enforcement department, call 941-778-1005, ext. 218.