One of the delights of living in Naples is the knowledge that our world renown beach is one of the many nursery beaches of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Almost all of the sea turtles that nest in the United States use Florida as a nesting site with only ten percent of turtles using beaches in other states to make their nests. The Loggerhead is the most common but is still an endangered species, the Green, Leather Back, Hawksbill and Keeps Ridley turtle can also be found on Florida beaches but they are rare with all four classed as threatened species and protected by law.
Each year between May and August, sea turtles make their journey over the beach hauling themselves across the sand to find a safe place to dig their nests. They lay around 100 eggs per nest before covering their precious cargo and crawling back into the warm gulf waters, 60 days later the eggs hatch and the tiny creatures start their mammoth journey to the safety of the Gulf waters.
Our turtles need your help to survive, you may have noticed when walking on the Naples beach during the nesting season, periodically along the dry water line there are markers with black and yellow tape, these are placed around the nest to protect them and keep them safe and undisturbed.
As vacationers and residents use Naples beach for recreation there is often debris left behind. To help our turtles and other sea creatures have the best possible chance of survival, make sure you clean up after yourself, fishing lines, bottles, and lotions are all potentially harmful.
Another way in which these wonderful creatures are protected is by having the beachfront homes in Naples along the Gulf shore black out their lights during the nesting season. Any type of artificial light can cause the baby sea turtles to lose the way they hatch, for this reason from May 1st to October 31st, homes on the beach in Naples are asked to turn off their outdoor lights and to close their curtains each evening.
The artificial light coming from the homes and condos on the beach could disorientate the baby turtles as they navigate from their nests towards safety. They need to use the natural light reflecting on the water from the moon and stars as their guide. When the eggs hatch if you happen to be close by, make sure there are no flashlights or artificial lights to distract them from making their long journey to the Gulf. With only 1 in 1000 turtles surviving to adulthood, our turtles need all the help they can get.
If you are in any doubt as to what to do when you see a turtle, contact Collier County Environmental Services or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at *FWC from your cell phone.