17 May Sea Turtle Season has begun on Pensacola Beach
May 17, 2018 –Pensacola Beach, Fl—Sea turtle nesting season has arrived on Pensacola Beach so the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA) would like to remind all residents and visitors to the island how to be good sea turtle stewards, with as little interference as possible.
Every spring, mother sea turtles return to Pensacola Beach at night, the same beach on which they were born, to lay their eggs. Beginning in May, Loggerhead, Green, Kemp’s Ridley, and, on rare occasions, Leatherback sea turtles, choose Pensacola Beach for nesting.About 45 to 60 days after a mother sea turtle hauls her heavy body onto our shore under the cloak of night, digs a hole in the sand with her flippers, and lays her eggs – her babies are ready to hatch. Hatchling season runs through the end of October on Pensacola Beach, with the height of hatching usually in August.Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as endangered, and some, like the Kemp’s Ridley, are critically endangered. Baby sea turtles face many obstacles when first leaving their nests — such as raccoons, crabs, birds and fish. Sea turtle hatchlings also use the light of the moon to guide themselves to the water, but can get distracted by bright lights from beach homes, condos and businesses facing the beach.Only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood. That’s why it’s so important to always be respectful and considerate of nesting sea turtles and hatchlings to ensure that future generations get to enjoy them too.
Here are some helpful tips:GO DARK – When walking the beach at night during turtle season, remember to use a red flashlight. Sea turtles and hatchlings are less likely to be attracted and disoriented by red lighting.TURTLE ETIQUETTE – Never touch or harass a nesting sea turtle or baby hatchlings as they leave their nest. Watch quietly from a distance and never shine lights or use flash photography, which could disorient them.FILL IT IN and KNOCK IT DOWN – Fill in large holes, knock down sandcastles and other obstacles to leave the beach flat for nesting sea turtles.LEAVE NO TRACE BEHIND – Remove all tents, canopies, furniture, toys and other obstacles from the beach every night.If you see a sea turtle or hatchling that is sick, injured, in distress or deceased, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 24-hour hotline at 888-404-3922.These simple measures will help this endangered species succeed, so we can continue to enjoy seeing them swim in our waters and on our shore generations to come.Pensacola Beach is owned by Escambia County, Fla., and is under the direction of the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA). The SRIA was created by the Florida legislature in 1947 under Chapter 24500. The SRIA does not receive tax support from the taxpayers of the county. It is fully funded from lease fees collected from business and residences on the beach. The Island Authority board is made up of six members; five are named by members of the Escambia County Board of Commissioners whose term is the same as the commissioner who appointed them. Registered voters on Pensacola Beach elect the sixth member. The elected member’s term is two years.