Special to the Recorder
St. Johns County is home to a diversity of wildlife including numerous species of endangered or threatened sea turtles.
Each spring, our beaches are buzzing with commotion as sea turtles use the beaches and dunes for nesting and scavenging that continues throughout the summer months. Sea turtle nesting season is from May 1 to Oct. 31. Those who live in and visit St. Johns County have a special opportunity and accountability to protect these magnificent creatures and their vulnerable nesting and feeding sites.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, an alarming amount of sea turtle nests have degenerated from around 4,500 in 2017 to 3,200 in 2018. This may not seem like a very large decrease, but it means that we are only left with 71 percent of our original turtle population.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that the appraised reasons of decreased population are because of humans disturbing their habitat or death due to the red tide this year. Along with the manmade disasters turtles face, baby turtles need to make their way from their nests into the ocean avoiding the predators. Rescue programs have been employed as well and have been very successful.
Rescue programs are built up by marine turtle patrol volunteers who survey the beaches at sunrise to collect important scientific data on nesting activities. Civilians can volunteer alongside these professionals by contacting the St. Johns County Government at http://www.sjcfl.us/HCP/Volunteer.aspx. (This volunteer program is permitted through Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.)
Here are a few things to look out for and consider come turtle nesting season
• Beachfront properties should try and reduce interior and exterior lighting from falling onto the beach. Artificial light can trick the turtles and lead them into dangerous situations
• If you are on a driving area of a beach, be sure to obey the speed limit.
• All flora and fauna are protected by our county and state. If you are found to have upset or disturbed an animal, fines can and will be placed.
Sai Prakash is a student at Landrum Middle School and passionate, aspiring writer.