Sea turtle nesting season is back on our beaches. Here’s what you need to know

On your mark, get set, nest! Thousands of female sea turtles are about to begin their annual rite of spring when they invade South Florida beaches for nesting season.

Here is what residents and visitors need to know about the turtles’ pilgrimage and how to help them safely lay their eggs.

When is nesting season?

It starts March 1 and runs through Oct. 31. Three species of sea turtles that regularly nest on our beaches: Green turtles, leatherbacks and loggerheads, with the latter being the most common in the area according to The turtles also nest on beaches in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

What happens?

During the season, the marine reptiles come back to the beaches and dig holes to lay eggs. The turtles leave about 100 golf-ball-sized eggs, which they cover with sand to hide them from predators.

Then the mariners leave the shore and return to the ocean. About 90 percent of sea turtle nesting in the United States takes place in Florida, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, which posted do’s and don’ts for turtle season on its website. The females tend to nest at night. The males don’t come ashore and stay in the water.

The hatchlings

It takes about 45-55 days for incubation. The eggs are deposited or are relocated by people to a safer area away from development and bright lights from condos and streets and traffic. After incubation, the eggs hatch and they scamper along the sand to the ocean and swim out. Only one in 1,000 hatchlings will survive and become adults, according to Broward County.

How can you help?

During the season, most cities on the coast require residents and businesses to reduce their lights or shield them to avoid impacting the turtles. People can use opaque curtains or blinds to cover their windows visible to the beach after the sun sets.

Artificial lights deter adult females from nesting on the shore and those lights can also confuse the baby turtles that may crawl inland toward storm drains and parking lots. The hatchlings rely on moonlight and its reflection on the water to guide them at night.

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