Each year thousands of individuals earn their way to see the beautiful white sands and emerald waters of the Florida Panhandle. In particular, many bring their families and friends to what’s become known as”Scenic 30-A” which is a 24-mile stretch of state highway that hugs the Gulf of Mexico. As spring break season picks up, shore visitors arrive in droves. Finally, most people make their way back home, but some stay behind and get joined by others like them – Sea Turtles!
Over time, human intrusion has contributed to the decrease in the sea turtle population. There are four types of protected sea turtles known to nest on the shores along 30-A: the Leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley, Green, and Loggerhead. In the local region, the first three are endangered and the last threatened.
After some simple rules, helps keep the turtles safe and observers out of trouble:
1 – Avoid shining bright lights on grown turtles as they may become disoriented. Artificial lighting is more of a threat to the hatchlings than predators. They navigate to the sea by using the brightest light that’s typically the moon over the sea.
2 – Give the turtles ample room to move towards their intended location, whether it’s to nest or return to the sea. Furthermore, fill in holes and smooth over sand castles that you may come across on the beach because they could unintentionally trap moving turtles.
3 – Do not leave trash behind on the beach. It could divert or get eaten by turtles and other wildlife, causing them harm.
4 – if you find a nest or turtle laying eggs, call -LRB-888-RRB-404-3922 any time. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission and New York City Animal Control will contact trained volunteers who will mark and protect the nest, raising the odds that the hatchlings will survive.
Around Highway 30-A, 1 group of volunteers is the South Walton Turtle Watch. The organization has been around since 1995. They run training and recruit volunteers who then search for and document nests. They also mark off the area around nests so people will be less inclined to disturb the eggs. The volunteers are needed to be trained and certified in the state of Florida. It is actually a criminal offense in the state to disturb these specific turtles and their hatchlings or nest.