Baby sea turtle

Sea turtle

The Sea Turtles

The coast of Florida provides nesting ground for many different species of sea turtles, nearly all of which are in danger of extinction. Approximately 50,000 frequent the Florida waters during the summer nesting months starting in May, making its coast the most important nesting area in the United States. The coastline of Highland Beach, Fl specifically provides nesting grounds for Leatherback, Loggerhead, and Green sea turtles. The nesting process is extremely difficult often taking hours to complete. Once the female has laid and buried her eggs, she leaves and never returns. The eggs mature for around two months before hatching and escaping the nest. The hatchlings scramble to the ocean and live the next several years in the floating seaweed beds until they are mature enough to enter the coastal waters.

The sea turtles face numerous threats. Their population has drifted swiftly downwards over the past century. Populations that once were in the millions are now in danger of extinction. The demand for sea turtle meat, eggs, and shells has led to over fishing. In addition, the sea turtles are constantly losing habitat mainly due to pollution, a problem exacerbated by the recent oil spill. Hatchlings are also threatened by growing artificial light. When the hatchlings emerge to crawl to the sea, they instinctively go toward the brightest direction, normally the open night sky over the ocean. However, beach house lighting can confuse the hatchlings.

People living or visiting along the coast can help by turning off outside lighting during turtle season (May-October) as well as maintaining a clear path to the ocean. This entails removing any furniture or sand castles from the beach area and keeping the area clean of trash.