Storm may toss sea turtles ashore; how to help
Friday, August 26, 2011
Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525;
Joy Hill, 352-732-1225;
Gabriella Ferraro, 561-625-5122
As waves from Hurricane Irene pound sandy Atlantic beaches along
Florida's east coast, they bring more than debris to shore. Small
sea turtles carried from their offshore homes of floating seaweed
can be cast up on the beach by the waves.
Green, leatherback, hawksbill and Kemp's ridley turtles are
federally endangered species, and the loggerhead turtle is a
federally threatened species. As a result, people wanting to help
these creatures should be aware of some requirements so they don't
find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) does
not recommend going to the beach specifically to search for and
rescue stranded sea turtles. However if you are on the beach and
see a small sea turtle onshore that is obviously stranded and not
attempting to move into the waves, please be aware of the
- Though it is illegal to possess a sea turtle (alive or dead) or
its eggs without an appropriate FWC permit, carrying the animal
directly to one of the facilities listed below will be acceptable
during storm conditions.
- Put the sea turtle on a damp cloth or towel in a small
container, cover it and keep it in the shade - but not in air
conditioning. Never put the sea turtle into water. The turtle is
probably exhausted and will do best in the conditions described
above. Do not crowd several animals into one container.
- Do not take the sea turtle home, leave it in your car or carry
it to any place other than one of the specified facilities.
Each facility has security staff or a covered cooler or box where
sea turtles can be left safely.
- Help only sea turtles lying on the sand and not moving into the
water. Do not dig into a marked sea turtle nest or remove small
hatchlings from the sand. Eggs that are rolling around in the surf
or on the beach probably will not produce hatchlings. Stiff
penalties may be imposed for violations of the Endangered Species
Act if the beachgoer removes the eggs from the beach without
permission from FWC staff.
The following facilities should have containers available to
receive sea turtles at any hour:
- Miami Seaquarium, 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway,
Miami, 305-361-5705; www.miamiseaquarium.com; Lifeguard
stands/stations on the beach
Palm Beach County
- Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, 1801 N. Ocean
Blvd., Boca Raton, 561-338-1473; www.gumbolimbo.org
- Loggerhead Marinelife Center, 14200 U.S.
Highway 1, Juno Beach, 561-627-8280; www.marinelife.org
- Florida Oceanographic Society, 890 N.E. Ocean
Blvd., Stuart, 772-225-0505; www.floridaocean.org
- Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge & Hobe Sound
Nature Center, 13640 S.E. Federal Highway, Hobe Sound,
772-546-2067, no drop-offs on Sunday (closed); http://hobesoundnaturecenter.com
Indian River/Brevard counties
For more information, please call the FWC's Wildlife Alert
hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), or call #FWC or *FWC from your cell