EXTENSION CONNECTION: Share the beach with sea turtles

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 05:41 PM.

May marks the beginning of sea turtle nesting season in Florida.

Marine turtle species, or sea turtles, are identified by their shells and modified limbs, which are non-retractable flippers. Five species of sea turtles nesting in Florida include the loggerhead turtle, green turtle, Kemps Ridley and leatherback turtle.

Sea turtles range in size from the smallest — 75-100 pounds — to the largest, 1,300 pounds. They can live 40-60 years, but only one in 1,000 survives to adulthood. All Florida sea turtles are threatened or endangered through the federal Endangered Species Act.

Sea turtles spend their entire lives at sea, except for nesting season, when females return to a beach for a short period to lay eggs.

Hatchlings are born with the instinct to move toward the brightest horizon, which should lead them to the ocean, though artificial lighting frequently causes disorientation.

Keeping beaches turtle friendly

May through October, during sea turtle nesting season, it is important to keep beaches turtle friendly. For instance, keep lights off or use low wavelengths to prevent turtle disorientation; keep beaches clear of holes and recreation equipment.

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