Posted by: reefrescue | March 1, 2010

Sea turtle nesting season begins

March 1st marks the beginning of sea turtle nesting season in Palm Beach County; oceanfront residents urged to dim beach lights

Special to the Palm Beach Daily News

Saturday, February 27, 2010

When in doubt, turn it out.

That simple, bumper sticker-like phrase says it all, marking the beginning Monday of lights out for turtle-nesting season.

If you are an occupant of one of the nearly 300 beachfront dwellings in the Town of Palm Beach, you probably have received a reminder letter, from the town or your condominium management, asking you to turn out lights that are visible from the beach.

The point? To protect sea turtles who lumber on beaches from March 1 through Oct. 31 to lay their eggs. For millions of years, female sea turtles have been coming ashore in Palm Beach County.

In 2008, the last year for which the state has figures, 33 percent of all leatherback nests in Florida were in Palm Beach County. Neighboring Martin County had 38 percent.

Palm Beach County also scored 25 percent of all green turtle nests in Florida and had 21 percent of all loggerhead nests statewide, according to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach.

So, it is important to continue to provide a welcoming habitat for these turtles. And lights shining on the beach can disorient the new hatchlings, leading them to disaster — instead of back to the sea.

“The hatchlings travel inland, toward the artificial lights, where they often die from dehydration, are preyed upon by fire ants and ghost crabs, or sometimes crawl onto the road where they are run over by car,” said Nanette Lawrenson, executive director of the center.

The lights can even prevent the females from nesting, which may be why the population of loggerhead turtles may be declining, observers of these special creatures say. Click here to read entire article in the Palm Beach Daily News.



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