We’re getting into nesting season, so the fight to protect Florida’s sea turtles is heating up. Unfortunately, there are still many visitors to Florida who don’t know all of the harm they can cause these critters.
There are numerous reasons why you shouldn’t mess with them but continue reading and we’ll unpack 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Mess with Florida’s Sea Turtles.
#1 It’s Illegal to Mess with Sea Turtles
Yes, you read that right. Florida’s sea turtles are protected by law. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that these critters are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.
These ancient animals are facing extinction as a result of human activity. So, it’s incumbent on us to prevent that from happening. To that end, Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act (379.2431, Florida Statutes) also has laws protecting these sea creatures.
#2 Environmental Pressures and Instinctual Development
You should not mess with young turtles as they make their way to the ocean because it interferes with that natural instinctual development. That long journey they’re taking to the ocean is preparing them for what awaits them when they get there.
Any kind of disturbance or interference with baby sea turtles, including getting too close, will likely disorient them leading them to crawl away from the water. Don’t mess with the hatchlings or shine flashlights at them. Don’t pick them up.
Appreciate them from a distance. They even sell turtle-safe flashlights so you can watch them without disturbing the fragile little creatures.
#3 5 Florida Sea Turtles Are Facing Extinction
- Loggerhead Turtle – Florida’s most common sea turtle, named for its massive, block-like head.
- Green Turtle – named for its green body fat. Approximately 100 to 1,000 green turtles nest on Florida’s beaches each year from June through late September.
- Leatherback Turtle – This large critter dives deeper, travels farther, and tolerates colder water than other sea turtles.
- Kemp’s Ridley – The relatively small Kemp’s Ridley is the rarest turtle in the world and it’s also the most endangered and facing extinction.
- The Hawksbill Turtle is small, agile, and beautiful and that beauty is its own liability. The shell is still used in some EU and Asian countries for jewelry hair decorations and other ornaments, despite international trade in hawksbill products being banned in much of the world.
Enjoy your Florida vacation and have fun but please, not at the expense of our sea turtles. Be sure and stay up to speed on all the hot spots and sweet destinations in Florida.
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