Surfside Turtle ConservationA sea turtle nest will take 55 to 60 days to unfold baby sea turtles, known as hatchlings. The first nest is historically in mid-May. June and July are very high nesting months and known as the Peak Nesting Time. Nesting will continue until mid-September. The last baby turtles will leave about the end of October.
The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department Sea Turtle Conservation Program has successfully documented more than 6,886 sea turtle nests and released more than 585,000 live hatchlings to the sea, since it began in 1980.
The Sea Turtle Awareness program takes place each summer at the Crandon Park Visitors & Nature Center and at Haulover Park. This program allows visitors to learn about different sea turtle species and their life cycle, as well as some of the dangers they face throughout their lives. Participants can come face to face with hatchlings and join them as they embark on their exciting journey into the depths of the ocean.
The public is invited to join Miami-Dade Parks' "Turtle Rangers" as they release hatchlings to the sea every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m., at the Crandon Park Visitor and Nature Center and at Haulover Park. The cost to participate is $10 per person and serves as a donation to Miami-Dade County's Sea Turtle Fund. Advance reservations are required.
For more information, call 305-361-6767 ext. 121 or visit the Sea Turtle Awareness Program Web Site.
How you can help
The survival of sea turtles depends on public support. Here are some ways you and other citizens of Miami-Dade can help: · As much as possible, refrain from walking on the beach at night during the summer months (March through mid-September.). No matter how quiet, humans will often - and unknowingly - frighten nesting sea turtles back into the sea.
Keep bright lights from shining onto the beach, build shades around the light so the beach is not directly illuminated. The bright lights will disorient hatchlings.
If you see someone harassing a sea turtle or poaching a nest, call the local police or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (1-888-404-FWCC).
Do not dispose of plastic bags or trash in the ocean. Plastic bags very closely resemble jelly fish, a favorite food of sea turtles, and will cause illness or death to turtles and other marine life that eat them.
Stay clear of marked sea turtle nests on the beach.
Coastal residents and visitors can help ensure successful nesting of threatened and endangered sea turtles by: • Ensuring beach-repair work is completed before nesting turtles arrive • Removing all equipment, beach furniture and other potential obstructions from the beach at night, when nesting females and hatchlings need to move unimpeded across the sand • Managing artificial light at night by turning off lights when not in use, closing curtains and shades, and shielding lights needed for human safety so no light is visible from the beach. Nesting and hatchling sea turtles may become confused by artificial nighttime lighting and head in the wrong direction when trying to find the water. If confused hatchlings end up heading landward instead of toward the sea, they often die from dehydration, get run over or become prey for raccoons, ghost crabs and fire ants.
Each year, about 2,500 FWC-permitted volunteers patrol more than 800 miles of sandy shoreline around the state on a regular basis, scanning the beach for leatherback, loggerhead and green turtle nests. The marine turtle permit holders mark and count nests and educate the public about protecting turtles, eggs and hatchings. Eggs in most nests will have finished incubation and hatch by the official close of nesting season on Oct. 31, although green turtles may continue laying eggs into October. Based on a monitoring program the FWC began in 1989, loggerhead nesting had continued a positive overall trend after several years of decline. Leatherback and green turtle nesting also have improved.
The FWC reminds beachgoers that it is illegal to disturb sea turtles, their nests or hatchlings. The loggerhead is listed as a federally threatened species, and the leatherback and green turtle are federally endangered species. State law restricts things like beach renourishment and repairs on structures such as seawalls during nesting season, which continues through October.