It’s sea turtle nesting season and I hope you’ll take a minute to read this story from last Wednesday. A determined but distressed sea turtle and 4 lanes of traffic. Not a good mix.
(By Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen via FlykeysNews.com )
A loggerhead turtle became disoriented early Wednesday morning and crossed a busy four-lane Key West road four times after laying her eggs on a path across the street from Smathers Beach, police said.
Around 5 a.m. Wednesday, someone reported seeing a loggerhead turtle laying her eggs on the Bridle Path across the street from Smather’s Beach. When officers arrived, they found the huge turtle attempting to cross the four-lane South Roosevelt Boulevard and return to the ocean. They set up a perimeter, blocking traffic to ensure safe passage for the turtle.
“We were well aware of the dire circumstances the turtle was in, having crossed the road once to make a nest in inhospitable terrain,” said Officer Carter Sims, who was the first to arrive on the scene.
The officers protected the turtle as she worked her way back to the beach and along about 40 feet of shoreline where a raft of seagrass blocked her from reentering the water. Distressed, she turned back to the road, crossed the four lanes of blacktop and returned to the Bridle Path.
While two of the officers protected the turtle from oncoming traffic, others located the nest full of eggs. They surrounded the site with crime tape and contacted the Key West Sea Turtle Club rescue group for help.
In the meantime, the exhausted turtle again turned to the beach and began to cross the boulevard. Again. Before her traverse was complete, the group of turtle rescue volunteers arrived, providing the officers with enough manpower and expertise to return the turtle back to the water.
Next, the volunteers were able to relocate the nest so the hatchlings won’t be at risk when they make that first dangerous run to the sea. In all, there were 125 eggs, according to the Key West Sea Turtle Club.
The incident is a good reminder turtle nesting season is here and there are things people can do to make it safer for them. If you live near a beach, turn off outdoor lighting at night and shade windows because turtles are attracted to light.“Key West’s beaches are closed to the public each night at 11 p.m., and this time of year it’s vital that people heed the law,” Crean said.
The story has a happy ending, thanks to the key west turtle club and the local police, but it’s a good example of the impact we humans have on these animals. Sea turtles are easily disoriented by light and sounds and it’s important to abide by restrictions put in place to protect them and, their eggs, in this case125 eggs full of hope for her species future.
Here are some things to remember when visiting the beaches this summer (Via US fish and wildlife)
- Minimize beachfront lighting. Close blinds and draperies in oceanfront rooms and turn off outdoor lighting.
- Remove all recreational equipment from the beach when not in use. This includes: chairs, umbrellas, towels, beach toys, etc.
- Do not construct beach fires during the nesting season. The hatchlings could become disoriented and crawl toward the fire.
- Refrain from using flashlights on the beach at night.
- Do not take flash photography of a nesting sea turtle or hatchling.
- Remove all of your trash from the beach -This includes cigarette butts.
- Do not trample beach vegetation.
- If you dig a hole in the sand fill it in before you leave the beach for the day.
- When boating stay in the channels and avoid seagrass beds. Do not anchor your boat in a seagrass bed
- Leave the tracks left by turtles undisturbed.
- Do not disturb nest markers. Most beaches have volunteer programs that protect and monitor sea turtle nests.
- Report unmarked nests, hurt or dead sea turtles to the local police or sea turtle volunteer organization.