Did you know that sea turtles have been around for over 100 million years? That is a long time! They used to hang around with the dinosaurs! That’s pretty cool if you ask me. And to think they are still here, and the dinosaurs aren’t! Today we are going to talk about Florida Sea Turtles 101!
Funny story, when my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Maui we saw a lot of sea turtles! My husband was out in the water and saw a huge shadow and first thought it was a shark. I don’t think I ever saw him run out of water so fast! Lol! Turns out it was a pretty large sea turtle swimming close to him. In Hawaii, it is against the law to even touch them.
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Sea turtles love beaches in Florida with soft sand. They will come up out of the water at night and find the perfect spot to dig and deposit up to 100 eggs at a time! That is a lot! It can take anywhere from 45-60 days for them to incubate and hatchlings to hatch! And sadly only about 1 in 1,000 survive! Sea turtle hatchling season in Florida is typically from March through October.
Did you know that sea turtles have a natural lifespan of about 50-100 years? That is a pretty long time considering all they encounter in their lifetime!
Sea Turtles are Endangered
Did you know that there are several species of sea turtles that are on the endangered list? They include Hawksbill, Green, and Loggerhead. What does it mean to be endangered? It means that they are seriously at risk of extinction.
So, what is causing it?
- Fisheries, things like nets, etc. The turtles get caught in them.
- Direct take, people are killing them for food, oil, leather, and for their shells.
- Coastal development, just like it sounds! We are building and taking away areas for them to lay their eggs.
How Can We Help Them Survive?
Have you ever seen a spot on the beach taped off with caution tape? What’s your first thought, that there must have been a crime?! Lol! Nope, if there is a known turtle nest, they will rope it off so it will not get disturbed.
Two things that you can do to help hatchlings survive and make it back to the water:
If you dig a hole, fill the hole! I touched on this in an earlier blog post, The 411 on Beach Etiquette. You can read that here. The reason for this is after they hatch, they are trying to make their way back to the water and if you dug a hole and they fall into it they will not be able to get back out. So please fill your hole before you leave for the day!
Turn off or shield outdoor lights that face the water. The light disorients them, and they will start to head away from the water instead of to the water. That is also why a lot of the times bridges that are close to beaches will either turn off their lights at night or change their color of them to something that isn’t as noticeable to the turtles.
Why are Sea Turtles Important?
Sea turtles play an important part in keeping our ocean healthy! Did you know that some sea turtles eat sea sponges? And that there is a constant battle between sea sponges and coral and if turtles didn’t eat and keep the sea sponges under control the coral reefs would be outnumbered by them. Believe it or not, this would throw off the entire ocean ecosystem!
Sea turtles also help our beaches stay beautiful! Their decomposing eggs help to supply nutrients to the sand dunes. This in turn helps the sand stay in place and protects the beach from eroding. Friends, everything has a purpose! We don’t always see it but it’s there!
So, did you learn anything new about sea turtles today? I did when I was researching them. It still amazes me how everything is connected, and one thing can throw off everything. So next time you see a taped-off area on the beach make sure you don’t disturb the area. And please fill in the holes that you dig while at the beach!
Please share any experiences that you have had with a sea turtle in the comments below!