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S.W. Florida Daily News


Wildlife conservationists reminding beachgoers to be mindful of sea turtles

Wildlife conservationists reminding beachgoers to be mindful of sea turtles
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FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Sea turtle nesting season is in full swing and that means plenty of nests are popping up at a beach near you.

And conservationists are taking this time to remind beachgoers to be a little more mindful of where they step.

“We are in turtle season and we are going great guns today!”

On the white sands of Fort Myers Beach, it’s not uncommon to find beach goers. But nestled among the dunes and cattails you’ll find barriers, meaning sea turtle nesting season is in full swing.

“Every year from may thru October, someone walks every morning and reports on any turtle activity that they might have seen,” says Mary Rose Spalletta, a volunteer with Turtle Time, Inc.

Turtle Time, Inc. is a local non profit dedicated to the conservation of marine turtles. Spalletta says right now— more than ever— those hitting the beach need to be mindful of their surroundings.

“We know that we have a goodly amount of loggerheads who want to come up here and nest,” she says. “The question is how many nests will we allow them to lay this year and it’s really up to us. That’s all we’re asking is cooperation.”

So far this year, the group has recorded 75 sea turtle nests along Fort Myers Beach. One of which being caught on video just last week.

The group also note a trend called false crawls, meaning a turtle comes to the beach but does not lay eggs. That’s happened more than 100 times this year already.

“We think that some of that is because we have light violations on the beach,” Spalletta said. “These sea turtles are very sensitive to white light so we have a rule that white lights are not allowed on the beach but, unfortunately, not everybody knows that.”

Things like filling in holes and collecting beach furniture or trash.

“Water quality, bay, beach, wildlife, plant life, yeah…”

Also to help spread the word- the Marine Environmental Resource Task Force.

“Sometimes you get people that live here and are very familiar with wildlife and the bay and the beach,” says Jennifer Rusk with the Marine Environmental Resource Task Force of Fort Myers Beach. “And then you have people that just got off the plane.”

It’s information and displays that are getting the word out. Making a balanced ecosystem for all walks of life.

“We have those sea turtles out there,” says Spalletta. “They’re doing their best to keep our ecosystem flourishing and they just ask minimal cooperation from us.”

If you come across an injured or nesting sea turtle, you’re asked to contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC.

You can also contact Turtle Time, Inc. You can find more information about them online right here.

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