Sea turtle nesting season begins May 1st and ends October 31st each year.
In 2015, the City of Sanibel received a $6000 grant from the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Sea Turtle License Plate Grant Program. With this grant, the City has initiated a new educational campaign, “After 9, it’s turtle time!”, to remind residents and visitors to close curtains and blinds and turn off lights after dark. The Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate is the primary source of funding for Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Program. It also supports the Sea Turtle Grants Program, which has awarded more than $2.7 million in grants for research, education and conservation programs since 2001 to benefit sea turtles in Florida.
Hatchling sea turtles are guided to the ocean by an instinct to travel away from the dark silhouettes of the dune vegetation and toward the brightest horizon—light from the sky reflecting off the ocean. Artificial lights near the beach can deter females from nesting and disorient hatchling sea turtles. Most hatchlings that wander inland will die of exhaustion, dehydration or predation. Local ordinances in effect year-round prohibit BOTH interior and exterior lights from illuminating the beach.
The City believes that this campaign, in coordination with longstanding efforts to enforce exterior beachfront lighting regulations, will reduce the number of disorientation events occurring on Sanibel’s beaches. Disorientation from a variety of artificial lighting sources causes thousands of hatchling deaths each year in Florida and is a significant sea turtle conservation problem. In most cases, however, implementing solutions is relatively simple.
|INTERIOR LIGHTING SOURCES-including chandeliers, lamps, and other fixtures, that are visible from the beachfront. Unshielded interior lighting, even from just a single beachfront condominium, resort unit, or residence, is enough to disrupt the normal sea-finding behavior of sea turtle hatchlings.||CLOSE CURTAINS AND BLINDS or TURN OFF LIGHTS-after dark (Yes, even if the windows/sliding glass doors are tinted “turtle glass”).|
|EXTERIOR LIGHTING SOURCES-including flood lights, porch ceiling fan lights, parking area lights and other fixtures that are visible from or directly, indirectly, or cumulatively illuminate the beach.||SHIELD OR TURN OFF OUTDOOR LIGHTS NEAR OR FACING THE BEACH-Replace the light source with a low-wattage, yellow or amber bulb, LED preferably.|
|PORTABLE LIGHTING SOURCES-including flashlights, lanterns, or flash photography||AVOID USING FLASHLIGHTS, LANTERNS, OR FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY WHILE ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT-Cover the lens of your flashlight with red cellophane to make it less disruptive to sea turtles.|
Is there anything else I can do to help protect sea turtles?
• Remove furniture and other items from the beach and dune area, when not in use, between the hours of 9:00 P.M. and 7:00 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.
Violations should be reported immediately to the Sanibel Police Department at (239) 472-3111, Sanibel Code Enforcement (239) 472-4136, or Natural Resources at (239) 472-3700.
To request “After 9, it’s turtle time” educational materials, please contact City of Sanibel Conservation Officer Veronica Runge at 239-472-3700 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org