Save the Sea Turtles
Gulf Coast Alabama is home to many sea turtles for nesting and hatching season the occurs starting in May and runs through October. Sea turtles return to the same beach that they hatched from to lay their eggs. There are three species of sea turtles that are natives of our sugar white sand beaches that return to make their nests and lay their eggs. Loggerhead, Kemp's Ridley, and Green Turtles are the 3 species that call our beach home during the nesting season.
Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Loggerhead Sea Turtles are named for its large head that support their powerful jaws which enable them to eat hard-shelled prey like crabs. Loggerheads are the most abundant species that nest in the US. Juvenile and many adult Loggerheads reside in the US Coastal waters but migrate from the Bahamas, Cuba, and Mexico. The US Loggerhead population's decline due to bycatch in fishing gear like longlines and gillnets. Bycatch is when fisherman catch and discard animals they do not want, or legally can't keep or sell that become entangled in the fishing gear. Loggerhead Sea Turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles
Kemp's Ridley sea turtles are named after Richard M. Kemp who was the fisherman who first submitted the species for identification in 1906. These are the smallest sea turtles in the world and primarily reside in the Gulf of Mexico. With bycatch being their biggest threat, Kemp Ridley's are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Green Sea Turtles
Green Sea Turtles are named because of their diet. Their unique diet makes them herbivores, mainly eating seagrass and algae. They are the largest hard shell sea turtle, and they might look a little familiar. These are the sea turtles that you see in the movie "Finding Nemo." Crush is a Green Sea Turtle. While bycatch is a one of the threats that these turtles face, vessel strikes, coastal development, and climate change are the biggest impacts on the development of Green Sea Turtle populations. These turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Founded in 2005 by the Friends of the Bon Secure Wildlife Refuge, Share the Beach is Alabama's sea turtle conservation program. Volunteers patrol the beach, observe, and assist with equipment for hatching preparations by marking nests and educating the public. Sea turtles local to our beaches are endangered, so we all need to do our part to protect them. You can help in rescue mission by learning more about our marine life friends and how to spot their nests by reading up on our hard shell friends. Simply click on their pictures and you'll be directed to NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION's website.
I know you're wondering, "What can I do to help?" Here's how:
- Avoid using flashlights and flash photography on the beach at night
- Distance yourself and don't disturb the nests, if you think you've stumbled upon a nest, please call Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge: (251) 540-7720
- Clean up after your beach day
- Fill up any holes left by you or others on the beach
- Turn off patio and balcony lights at night
By following these simple steps, you will do your part in support these beautiful animals and increasing their chances of survival so they can return to our beaches year after year.