Focus on sea turtle protection this weekend in Palm Beach Co.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Media contact: Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459
This weekend Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement officers will be patrolling the beaches of Palm Beach County in an effort to educate the public on how people can help protect Florida’s nesting sea turtles.
Officers will explain the unintended consequences that can occur when nesting turtles are disturbed by beachgoers. They also will explain the laws in place to protect these turtles.
This year there appears to be a higher than average number of reported false crawls on the area’s beaches. A false crawl is when a turtle comes onto the beach with the intention of laying eggs but returns to the water without nesting.
“False crawls can be caused by a variety of reasons. However, human interaction, including the use of bright lights, is often a cause,” said FWC Capt. John Suggs. “We want to get out on the beaches and let people know that their behavior can prevent sea turtles from nesting, further jeopardizing these threatened and endangered species.”
The Marine Turtle Protection Act stipulates that it is illegal to injure, harm, harass, capture or attempt to capture any marine turtles, eggs or nests. Any person committing such an offense can be facing a third-degree felony charge.
“We appreciate the public’s interest in these unique reptiles, but we want people to know that an action as simple as shining a light on a nesting female can have serious consequences,” said Suggs. “When you are on the beach, don’t interfere with turtles, and give them ample space and time to complete their nesting process, which can take up to two hours.”
The FWC recommends that people interested in watching a turtle nest on the beach attend a permitted public sea turtle watch. Watches are usually held during June and July, and reservations must be made in advance. For a list of organizations permitted to conduct watches, visit MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle and click on “Where to view Sea Turtles.”
If you see someone disturbing a nest or turtle, call the FWC Division of Law Enforcement at 888-404-FWCC or *FWC from your cell phone.