Sea turtles are one of nature’s most interesting and beautiful creatures. Sadly, both of Alabama’s species, the Loggerhead and Green, are categorized as endangered. Increased conservation efforts and awareness may have finally started to give these awesome animals the turnaround they deserve. In fact, researchers predict that the number of hatching turtles for 2016 could break previous records.
Although the increases are small, they’re still noticeable. For our neighbors in Manatee County, Florida for example, the 2013 nest count was 317 for Longboat Key. Last year they saw an increase of 13 nests, reaching 340 and beating the record. Along the coast, the trend of growth is continued, and that’s precisely why scientists believe it could be the biggest year yet.
The community gets involved in the hatching, and it’s easy to see why. Thousands of baby turtles will emerge from the sand and make their way to the ocean. Years later, they’ll return to the same stretch of beach where they were born to create a family of their own. Considering they can live 100 years or longer, the tradition is truly magical.
For the Gulf Shores and other areas of Alabama, Share the Beach offers most of the protection for these creatures. The program aims to educate people about sea turtles and help guide the fragile hatchlings into the ocean. They also mark nesting sites to keep them safe from accidental harm. Large groups of volunteers gather to watch the babies dig to the surface and take their first tentative steps.
Other Ways to Help
Even if you’re unable to volunteer or donate, there are ways that beachfront property owners can be more sea turtle friendly. Bright lights disturb the turtles, especially if they’re nesting. Aside from causing them undue stress, they become confused and disoriented””which is especially dangerous for a creature that’s vulnerable on land. Turning off patio and indoor lights is a simple but effective move.
Leaving the turtles alone is important as well. They need a quiet and peaceful environment to lay their eggs. You should also never leave trash on the beach. If one of these beautiful animals ingests it, the results could be fatal. Remember to always be respectful and enjoy sea turtles from a distance.