Have you ever visited Fort Lauderdale Beach and noticed areas in the sand that are taped off?
They're very common on Florida beaches from March to October and it's very important that you avoid these taped off areas. Inside these taped off sections of the beach are baby sea turtle eggs. From March 1 - October 31, adult sea turtles will leave the depths of the Atlantic to lay their eggs inland.
A pregnant sea turtle will make a trip up the beach to lay 60-100 eggs for incubation. The turtle digs a hole in the sand up to 2 feet deep with its' hind legs and then cover the eggs to protect them from predators. The adult turtle then returns to the sea to never see the hatchlings again.
Roughly 90% of sea turtles in the USA choose the coast of Florida to lay their eggs. The hatchling's gender will be determined based on the temperature inside of the nest. This is why Florida is the perfect place for nesting. Incubation takes up to 60 days to occur but once the eggs hatch the journey has just begun.
Hatchlings will emerge from the sand and begin to travel towards the nearest source of light. This is where the development along the coastline can cause harm. The artificial lights of the streets and buildings can cause confusion and many hatchlings will begin to travel toward the light. This is why many cities have made laws that require streetlights and buildings to be turned off or turned down at night along the coastal waters.
It's estimated that only 1 in 1,000 of the hatchlings will reach adulthood as many will not make it to the water to begin with due to this new light pollution. Once in the water, the turtles will have to deal with predators and other natural risks that could cause them harm. This is why it's so important that we avoid these taped off areas on the beach. We must avoid causing these turtles harm so they'll have a fighting chance to make it to adulthood.
*Photo courtesy National Geographic