The fates seem to be smiling down on Fort Morgan this year, as reports of sea turtle nests are already above the annual average. As of August 25, 26 nests have been hatched, sending 2,600 live hatchlings to the water. While it’s not typical to find nests after August 31, there’s a good chance undiscovered nests will continue to hatch throughout the autumn season. We’re thrilled with the progress the population has made this year and continue to be in awe of the resilience of these special creatures.
To help bolster the population further, there are a few things you can do.
Please share the beach, and consider these ways to help the turtles:
Turn Off Your Lights at Dark
If you have lights that shine on or can be seen from the beach, turn them off around dusk. Lighting near the shore can cause little hatchlings to become disoriented and wander inland instead of toward the water. Scientists believe turtles have an innate tendency to turn to the brightest point because of the moonlight reflecting off the water. If turtles wander inland, they’re exposed to being eaten, run over, or becoming severely dehydrated. You may also consider covering your windows with blackout curtains to keep light from being visible from the beach.
Use Red Lights on the Beach at Night
To protect turtles from dehydration and predation, use red lights instead of LED or white lights. Known as “Turtle Safe Lighting,” red lights emit a very narrow portion of the light spectrum, making them the least invasive to nesting turtles. This switch is a simple solution that can make a big difference. In a study of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, researchers found a 6% reduction in disorientation after just one year of public education about light pollution.
Fill in Holes in the Sand
If you spend the day playing on the beach, remember to cover any holes you dig. Baby turtles can get stuck in even the smallest pit, leaving them vulnerable to predators.
Remove All Items From the Beach
When you retire from the beach at the end of the day, make sure you take all of your personal belongings with you. Baby turtles can choke on small toys or food, or may become disoriented by larger items like umbrellas.
When nesting season comes to Fort Morgan, it’s important to remember to share the beach. By making a few simple modifications to our daily routine, we can help sustain the population of these remarkable creatures.