It's the Start of Broward County's Sea Turtle Nesting Season
  
- Beach users and beach residents urged to be cautious -
  
DATE: March 6, 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: Courtney Kiel, Natural Resource Specialist
Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department
PHONE: 954-519-1255
EMAIL:
ckiel@broward.org  

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - Be aware! Large marine reptiles are starting to visit to Broward County’s beaches nightly and as a precaution Broward County Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department wants to inform beach residents and users that the sea turtle nesting season began on March 1 and will continue through October 31.

Threatened and endangered sea turtle mothers come ashore at night to deposit their egg clutches and then they return to sea. Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), a threatened species, may lay four to five nests per turtle per season, with each nest containing an average of 110 eggs. In 2013, there were 2,459 loggerhead nests deposited on Broward's beaches. Two endangered species of sea turtles also nest here, but less frequently than the loggerhead. In 2013, green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) deposited a record 495 nests, and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) deposited 18 nests.

June and July signify the peak of the nesting season in Broward County. If you are on the beach at night and see a large turtle coming ashore, watch from a distance and avoid the urge to get closer. Members of the public wishing to participate in organized tours to witness the nesting ritual can contact the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program at 954-519-1255 for information.

After a short incubation period, hatchling sea turtles will leave the nest with their instinct to head in the direction of the brightest horizon. On our beaches, under natural conditions, this would be east toward the ocean due to the dark silhouettes of dunes and a starlit illuminated ocean. However, artificial lights toward the west can confuse hatchlings and cause them to search for the ocean in the wrong direction. All of the County's coastal cities have ordinances that require beachfront homeowners, businesses, hotels and condominiums to turn off or shield their lights from the beach during the sea turtle season. If members of the public see hatchling turtles heading in the wrong direction they should call the sea turtle emergency response cell phone at 954-328-0580.

This year the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program will be caging turtle nests in certain areas of the beach to help mitigate effects of light pollution along a highly developed coastline. Such caging is only to allow more time for beachfront property owners and cities to replace or retrofit their lights while still addressing public safety. Caging can impact the developing eggs and hatchlings of threatened and endangered sea turtles, and is only allowed by the state and federal government for a limited period of time to reduce the number of hatchling turtles harmed as residents work to fix their lights. Do not touch, tamper or, in any way, manipulate the cages as this could be considered a “take” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. If you see someone tampering with a cage, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Center, Law Enforcement, hotline at 1-888-404-3922.

Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department
The mission of the Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department is to safeguard lives, natural resources and property of residents and visitors to the County. This is done by providing for natural resource planning; managing, protecting and planning for appropriate land use patterns and housing mix, establishing an incident command system and emergency operations plans; enforcing environmental, development and construction regulations; and providing for consumer protection. For more information, call 954-357-6612 or visit Broward.org/EnvironmentalAndGrowth.

 
 
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