Sea Turtles on Amelia Island
When you visit Amelia Island on vacation or a quick get-a-way, you may be lucky enough to spot evidence of Sea Turtles on our beaches. Did you know the nesting of these turtles is very protected locally and federally because all five Florida species are listed as either endangered or threatened? The Federal Endangered Species Act lists the Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Kemp’s Ridley turtle as endangered and the Loggerhead is listed as threatened.
The main nesting months run from May to October, but there are many exceptions to the rule.
Leatherbacks have been known to start as a early as February, and depending on water temperature, hatchlings emerge well into the winter months.
After the two-month incubation period, the turtle hatchlings all dig out of their nest at the same time, a process that can take several days. As a group, they then leave their nest at night and head directly for the sea. This first trek imprints their home beach into the hatchling. Once grown, the turtles will return to lay their nests on the same beach.
Here are a few things you can do to help us ensure the safety of our precious Sea Turtles:
– Turn off all beachside lighting in vacation rental beach houses or condos and use only led flashlights with red bulbs for night beach walking. White lights are harmful to our nesting animals especially the endangered sea turtles.
– Leave nothing on the beach except footprints between sunset and sunrise. People and our nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings can become injured by and possibly trapped in any items left on the beach.
– Fill in any holes dug during the day and flatten sand castles. People and our nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings can become injured by holes in our sand and the hatchlings can not crawl over sand castles as they make their way to the ocean.