Summer is almost here and that means it’s time to hit the beach! As much as we like to play in the sand, we need to remember local beaches also serve as sea turtle nesting habitats. Here are easy things you can do to leave the beach a better place for turtles:
Watch your trash!
Plastic and other trash is very harmful for turtles and sea life. When you go to the beach, try to take waste-free snacks. Pack your food in reusable containers instead of baggies. Avoid packaging that may easily blow away. Then, take all of your trash with you. Often, trash cans on the beach blow over or overflow allowing the trash to end up on the beach or in the water. By taking your trash to dispose of properly at home you avoid adding to the mess. If you want to go one step further, pick up one extra piece of trash off the beach before you leave. You can help scientists learn what you picked up by using the Marine Debris Tracker App.
Knock down your castle!
Beach fun often includes building sand castles. Unfortunately, they also act as an obstacle course for nesting sea turtle mothers. Before you leave the beach, knock down your castle so turtles can crawl up the beach. Also, fill in any moats or holes you dug in the sand. These also pose a threat. If a turtle falls in, they could be injured or baby turtles could become trapped. Carolina Beach has instituted a $100 fine for every hole left unfilled. This summer instead of digging holes, make a game of filling the many holes other people leave behind.
Take your tents and chairs!
Leaving chairs and tents out overnight can cause big problems for turtles. It is easy for turtles to get trapped in chairs or tent lines, especially in the dark. Help the turtles by packing up everything you take to the beach even if you plan to come back in the morning.
Turn off your lights!
If you are staying beachside, turn off any ocean-front lighting at night. Lights may confuse nesting and hatching turtles prompting them to move toward the artificial light and away from the ocean. Many beaches have ordinances that prohibit ocean-front lighting.
Leave the turtles alone!
If you see a nesting turtle give her plenty of space. Approaching a turtle can scare her off the beach. She may dump her eggs in the ocean where they can’t survive.. Observe from a distance and call the local turtle protection agency to let them know where you saw a nesting turtle. Also make sure you stay away from any nests marked on the beach. Disturbing turtles and nests can result in major fines.
Enjoy the beach this summer and take a few steps to help protect turtles at the same time! Our turtles are growing quickly with all the care they receive. This week Turtle A is 17.4 cm long and weighs 777 grams. Turtle B is 18.1 cm long and weighs 914 grams. For more information on what to do with those numbers, please check out our lesson: Hatchling to Yearling.
This week we got some letters in the mail from Ms. Lausten’s fourth grade class! Matt, Jacob, Kathy and I were super excited to get your letters! We will be sending the answers to your questions soon! Thank you so much for reading our blog every week. We are happy to know you are learning so much.
We also received this picture from Ms. D’s Mateys in Canada!
These first graders turn their classroom into an aquarium every time it is too wet or cold to go outside for recess. This week, some of them were pretending to be Rich making salt water! We love hearing how you use our website and curriculum in your class! Please feel free to send us photos and letters as well! Join us next week when we hear from North Carolina’s sea turtle coordinator!