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Sea Turtle Protection
There are five species of sea turtles found in Florida waters; all of these species are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Florida Marine Turtle Protection Act (379.2431 Florida Statues). Loggerheads are the predominant species of sea turtles visiting the beaches of the City of Naples and Collier County. Every year female loggerhead sea turtles begin arriving to lay their eggs in May and continue nesting through August. Hatchlings begin emerging 60 days after the nests are laid and continue to hatch through October. Within the City and County beaches, hundreds of nests are laid each year.
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The use of the City and County beaches by sea turtles is vital to their continued survival in southwest Florida. However, due to diminishing nesting habitat, increased development, beachfront and urban interior lighting, entanglement in fishing line, and injuries from boat propellers, sea turtles are progressively more vulnerable to extinction. Sea turtles and people can co-exist if we take action to preserve and share our common habitat.

As beachgoers, boaters, fishers, and/or property owners, here are actions we can take to help save and protect these vulnerable marine animals and their critical nesting environment:

Limit night activities on the beach during nesting season; your presence may discourage females from approaching the beach.

Help keep the beach dark: do not use flashlights, flash photography or fishing lamps on the beach at night. Property owners should shield and redirect lights, turn off unnecessary lighting, such as landscape and accent lighting, and replace exterior lamps with long wavelength light sources. Lights confuse nesting females and hatchlings causing them to disorient away from the ocean resulting in them being prone to capture by predators, fatal dehydration, or misdirection into nearby parking lots and roadways.

Do not approach, disturb, or touch nesting females or hatchlings. If you witness a sea turtle emerging from the surf or digging a nest, remain quiet and at a distance. Movements, noises, and lights can easily frighten away a female turtle, possibly causing the nesting attempt to be aborted. Also, never stop a sea turtle that is returning to the water.

Do not interfere with hatchlings heading for the water, as this can weaken them and increase mortality. Hatchling

Take back what you bring: lounge chairs, umbrellas, coolers, litter, etc. Beach furniture, litter, debris, and fishing line are barriers to already exhausted females and can prove to be deadly if they become entangled in them.

• In the ocean, litter, such as plastic bags and balloons, is mistaken for food. Sea turtles can ingest this debris and suffocate or starve to death. Some litter may cause entanglement and ultimately prove to be fatal. This is a cause of concern for not only sea turtles, but also all marine life as well as inshore and offshore birds.