Sanibel Island’s Sea Turtle nesting season officially began on May 1 with our first nest found on April 29. You can identify the protected nests by the yellow barriers. The City of Sanibel has partnered with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation in asking all residents and visitors to do their part in protecting these threatened and endangered species.
Sea Turtle nesting on Sanibel has been happening for centuries and Sanibel’s beaches have more nesting activity on them than any other beach in Southwest Florida. Susceptible to predators, sea turtle hatchlings have only a one in a thousand chance of survival. By following some guidelines during nesting seasons, we can further reduce that chance.
Below are guidelines are given to us by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation to help protect the Sea Turtles and their nests.
- Turn off or shield lights near the beaches. Artificial beach lighting can inhibit female sea turtles from nesting and disorient hatchlings. Most beachfront lighting issues can be addressed by turning off all unnecessary lights, repositioning or modifying light fixtures, or closing blinds and drapes.
- Remove furniture and other items from the beach and dune area, when not in use, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Items left on the beach including beach furniture, toys and trash may provide barriers to nesting or result in entanglement and predation of hatchlings.
- Level all sandcastles and fill any holes dug during play. These are fine during the day but may pose additional hazards at night. Please leave the beach as you found it, so that sea turtles and hatchlings are not hindered on their way to nest or to the water.
- Pick up all trash. Sea turtles mistakenly eat debris, especially plastic, which results in death.
- Honor the leash law. All dogs on the beach must be on a leash and not allowed to disturb nesting turtles or hatchlings.
- The City’s Dark-skies and Beachfront lighting standards are applicable and enforced year-round. Gulf-front property owners should make sure that their properties are in compliance with the City’s sea turtle protection ordinances and ensure that artificial lighting from the property is not illuminating the beach (Sanibel Code Section 74-181-74-183, Section 126-996-126-1002).
- Test if your property is in compliance is to stand on the beach on a moonless night and look seaward. If you can see your shadow cast towards the water, there is too much light behind you. This light could potentially deter female turtles from nesting or disorient hatchlings as they emerge from the nest.
For more information visit the City of Sanibel’s website: http://mysanibel.com/Departments/Natural-Resources/Protecting-Our-Beaches/Sea-Turtles
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