Sea Turtles Return
One of the most beautiful and amazing rites of nature’s passage occurs each year in our own backyard. As spring turns to summer, mother turtles make the annual trek from sea to sand to lay their eggs. Their hatchlings then do what nature intended and return to the waters to start lives of their own.
Nearly 20% of all nests in Florida surface on the beaches of Palm Beach County. While this statistic is impressive, it also provides a cautionary tale to local beachgoers, tourists and the curious alike. These creatures are extremely vulnerable to human behavior, and educating the public about this remains key. They can become visibly frightened if they are disturbed, particularly during nesting season.
It is extremely important to protect the nests so that the turtles go unharmed. While the beach might be our playground, it is their natural habitat. In essence, we are guests in their home. Awareness is key and it is important for us to be reminded that our fragile ecosystem is dependent on this understanding.
Each type of sea turtle – Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback – has a distinct and vital role in sustaining and preserving Florida’s coastal habitats. The threat of extinction is evidenced by their dawdling numbers and presents enormous obstacles and hazardous implications for marine wildlife. Turtles consume sea grass (seaweed) and this consumption regenerates increased amounts from which lobster, fish and sharks can thrive.
Specialists at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a sea turtle rescue based in Juno Beach, developed a program for the Ritz-Carlton Residences on Singer Island for people to better understand the importance of sea turtles and their nesting habits. Some simple guidelines to follow include not walking on the beach with flashlights and turning off exterior lights at night during nesting season (darkness is crucial), as well as (obviously) avoiding interaction with turtles or disturbing their nests by day or night.
“It is important that we take time to acknowledge nature and pay attention to the living things only a few steps from our front doors,” explains Ophir Sternberg, board president of The Ritz-Carlton Residences Singer Island in Palm Beach.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences hopes this initiative will help safeguard generations of sea turtles to come by sharing this information with their Florida neighbors so that beachgoers throughout Florida will naturally come to protect the future of sea turtles in their natural habitat. And hopefully ours as well.