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Turtle nesting season begins, beaches adjust

Posted at 7:09 PM, May 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-02 07:13:54-04

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. -- Turtle nesting season began on Sunday and beaches are doing what they can to make the process run smoothly.

Beach goers on Marco Island were excited Sunday to maybe catch a glimpse of the creatures. "My children love sea animals, my daughter's looking to do marine biology so this is excellent. She would love to be here," said Pheobe Cruz.

However, staff at resorts like the Marco Island Mariott Beach Resort want to make sure guests do not disturb turtles at this crucial time. "You can imagine what happens when 120 little baby turtles hatch and go to the Gulf Of Mexico," said Mike Tighe, resident manager at the resort. "Obviously they're going to be curious, we ask them if they're going to be walking out on the beach at night, not to walk towards the shoreline, walk closer inland."

The loggerhead sea turtle is a protected species by Florida law, so it is important that patrons do not touch or disturb their nests. Artificial light disorients turtle hatchlings from returning to the Gulf, so beach goers should not flash lights at night trying to find them.

The Marriot resort is asking guests to close blackout drapes in their hotel rooms by 9 P.M. They also said they are making sure to get all their furniture off the beach by sundown and using amber light at night to make sure the turtles are not disturbed.Loggerheads on Collier County beaches lay hundreds of nests each summer. Hatchlings begin emerging approximately 60 days after the first nesting and continues through October. "It's a unique experience, it's fun, it's exciting," said Tighe.