June 16 is World Sea Turtle Day, and we are celebrating all month long to raise awareness about the importance of sea turtles and how to protect them!
There are lots of easy steps you can take to make sure you are a successful sea turtle ambassador!
Why is Florida Important to Sea Turtles?
Ninety percent of all sea turtles in the United States lay their eggs on Florida beaches, making it an extremely important place for the conservation of these endangered creatures!
Florida’s beaches and waters are also home to 5 out of only 7 sea turtle species in the entire world:
- Green Sea Turtle
- Kemp’s Ridley
Sea Turtles are a Keystone Species!
Sea turtles have been a vital component of healthy and balanced marine and coastal ecosystems for over 100 million years! In fact, sea turtle health can be a very good indication of ecosystem health.
Here are some of the great things that sea turtles do:
- Green sea turtles graze on and maintain seagrass, which sequesters carbon and provides food for other species.
- Some sea turtles feed on jellyfish & sponges, allowing coral reefs and other fish to flourish.
- Sea turtles circulate nutrients among the open ocean, the coast, and dunes.
How You Can Help!
Here are just nine things you can do to make the world a better, safer, and healthier place for sea turtles.
- Respect the dunes and nesting grounds
Walk around dunes to prevent erosion: they are necessary for hatchlings to orient towards the water.
- Leave no trace
Pack up all fishing and beach supplies and dispose of garbage in a closed-lid can. Anything left on the beach can make it difficult for turtles to nest & make it back to the water. Trash can also attract predators.
- Keep the beaches dark
Bright lights on the beach at night are disorienting for hatchlings. If you are living or staying near the coast, turn off exterior lights at night, shade bright windows, and use red or amber-toned lightbulbs.
- Don’t drive on the beach
Tire ruts on the sand disturb nests & create obstacles for hatchlings trying to make it to the water.
- Fill in holes & knock over sandcastles
Before leaving the beach, remove any potential obstacles for nesting sea turtles.
- Say NO to turtle shell products
Be wary of tourist items and jewelry made of poached hawksbill turtle shells, particularly when traveling in Latin America and Asia
- Keep Your Distance
Always maintain a distance of at least 50 yards from sea turtles, whether on the beach or in the water.
- Get Involved!
Look for volunteer opportunities near you. May- October is sea turtle nesting season and you can help track & mark nests along the beach! Email the FWC to ask about opportunities: MarineTurtleVolunteers@MyFWC.com
- Report Injured & Distressed Sea Turtles
If you see an injured, stranded, or dead sea turtle, or if you see someone disturbing a sea turtle or their nest, contact the FWC hotline: CALL: 1-888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922) TEXT: *FWC or #FWC
Join TESI, in collaboration with the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, the UF Whitney Lab, and the Florida Museum, in THREE super cool events throughout the month to celebrate, raise awareness about, and protect sea turtles in Florida.
- Saturday, June 10: Beach Cleanup in St. Augustine, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Help clean trash off the beach to protect the sea turtles. The first 20 people to arrive receive a free ‘Save the Sea Turtles’ t-shirt!
- Thursday, June 15: ‘Science on Tap’ event at Cypress & Grove Brewery, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Listen to 3 wonderful speakers on sea turtles while enjoying a drink and a bite to eat from the Congas Caribbean food truck.
- Saturday, June 17: Family Fun Sea Turtle Celebration, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Engage in a free virtual reality simulation provided by Project SHELL to explore the phases of life as a loggerhead sea turtle. Participate in a scavenger hunt! Check out super cool, real sea turtle specimens!!Talk with researchers from the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at UF!