Sea turtles spend their entire lives at sea, except when they come ashore to lay their eggs.
Considerable number of turtles come to the beaches of Florida to lay their eggs. And, the beaches in the Englewood area are no exception.
The turtles start to come ashore in early May and the process of laying and hatching eggs continues into October.
In fact, some turtles may lay more than one nest of eggs each summer.
Some estimates suggest that more than 50,000 sea turtles come to the region around the state of Florida each summer.
We have witnessed areas of the beaches at Englewood being marked off to protect the turtle eggs that have been laid beneath the sandy dunes.
If you live near the beach, either as a visitor renting a vacation property, or as a permanent resident, there are a few things that you can do.
How to Help the Sea Turtles
- If possible turn off your outside lights. The reason for this action is simple. When the turtles hatch, they head towards the brightest area.
- Usually, water is brighter at night than land. This helps the baby turtles find their way to the safety of the ocean. But if you have yard lights on, the turtles will head towards them. The results could be catastrophic.
- Also, if you shine a bright light on a mother turtle when she is looking for a place to lay her eggs, she might become so scared that she will return to the water and drop her eggs there. Of course, these eggs will never hatch.
- Keep the beach area clear of sand castles, chairs or other items that might block the exodus of the young turtles to the sea.
- For other information contact the local conservation authorities.
If you are interested in volunteering to help with the sea turtle program in the area there are groups such as the Coastal Wildlife Club that would like to hear from you. You could also contact the Sarasota County Department of Coastal Resources for further information.
Unfortunately the last couple of years have not been successful years in terms of the number of turtle eggs that hatched on Englewood area beaches.
According to an Englewood Herald Tribune article on November 11, 2006, although the nests did not suffer from the havoc created by storms during the previous two years, the 2006 nesting season was not very productive. Too often, volunteer patrols found holes and broken shells in the nesting areas indicating that predators had invaded the turtle nests.
The same Herald Tribune article indicated that the number of nests on Manasota Key had dropped from 1,403 in 2005 to 1,304 nests that past nesting season.
The lower number of turtle nests was made worse by the fact that incidence of predation on the nests has hit a record level.
Some of the Turtles That May Visit Florida Beaches
The most common sea turtle living in the state of Florida is the Loggerhead. Although this turtle is not endangered, it is considered to be a threatened species. It is estimated that more than 80% of the Loggerhead turtles in the United States are in Florida and they create in excess of 65,000 nests on Florida beaches every year.
Perhaps the rarest turtles of these giant reptiles that visit Florida beaches each summer are the Leatherback turtles. These must be the largest of all turtles as some of them grow to an incredible eight feet in length. Unfortunately, they are an endangered species. Only about 200 nests are recorded each year on Florida beaches.
Another of Floridas endangered turtles is the Green turtle. This turtle is responsible for about 2,000 nests on Floridas beaches each summer.
It is important that we all work together to help the sea turtles continue to thrive. Even if your visit is for a short period of time, please respect the areas where the turtles are nesting.