Sea turtle nesting season underway

(WFLA) – This week marks the beginning of sea turtle nesting season, and from this point on it’s a race to get on shore to multiply.

For the last two years, sea turtle hatchlings have been spotted from Long Boat Key all the way to Venice at an alarming rate.

“So, there’s about 100-120 eggs in a single nest,” said Mote Marine biologist Melissa Bernhard. “Not every egg or every nest makes it, but there are a lot of turtles coming out every year.”

“Last year was a record for us. We had 4,588 nests on our 35 miles of beach, which is a record for the 35 years we have been patrolling. The year before was also a record,” she said.

Because experts are expecting another record year, we wanted to know just how educated beachgoers are about sea turtles.

“I do know we have seen some in the past on the beach and to stay clear of the area where they are at,” said Lorena Larrea, of Tampa.

“Just leave them alone and let nature take its course and walk around the netting and whatever else is on the beach,” said Bo Karpinsky, of Michigan.

“Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act nationally and under Florida law as well,” said Bernhard. “It is illegal to touch or harm any turtle egg hatchling, or even the stakes we use to mark the nests.”

For the most part, sea turtles only nest at night, and everything from your car’s headlights to flashlights can disorient them and have them headed for the parking lot, when they should be headed back to the water.

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