Volusia County, FL – It’s here! The sea turtle nesting season is officially underway and Jennifer Winters, Volusia County Habitat Conservation Plan Program Manager, would like everyone to know it and take precautions.
Winters said that sea turtles get spooked easily and you’re not likely to actually see one. You can tell if a sea turtle has been in the area by looking for what Winters calls, the crawl track. Volunteers travel the shoreline early in the morning looking for the tracks. If they do find a nest, Winters said they mark the nest with a small four by four area, using stakes and survey tape. She asks that the curious keep a safe distance.
There are a number of things you can do to help keep the sea turtles and their eggs safe. Winters said it’s mainly about being a good beach-goer by getting rid of your trash and only leaving your footprint behind.
Winters said a big issue is artificial light. The county’s Environmental Management Division works with beachfront property owners, educating them about the sea turtle lighting ordinance. During nesting season, residents are required to turn off, shield or redirect lights so they don’t shine on the beach.
Finally, Winters reminds people that if they get lucky enough to see a nesting adult sea turtle or hatchlings headed toward the ocean to admire them from a distance. She suggests standing quietly a good distance away. If a turtle or the hatchlings appear to be in immediate danger, contact a lifeguard or Beach Safety officer or call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-3922.
During a typical year, there are between 400 and 500 nests in Volusia County. Last year was a banner year, with volunteers and staff finding 577 nests.