We are now three weeks into sea turtle nesting season and the town’s ordinance to protect the turtle hatchlings continues to be ignored by some property owners and business owners on Fort Myers Beach.
This is a photo of The Sandarac condo building taken last night. You can see two spotlight looking lights that can be seen a half mile from the building.
A Thursday night scan of the town’s website showed 74 active investigations of the sea turtle ordinance. We could not see that any of the violators have been written any actual fines as of last night. The paperwork showed that the violators were being warned, given time to fix the problem, and given a date for a follow-up inspection. Some of those re-inspection dates have passed and the paperwork has not yet been updated, or the follow-ups were not done. It’s clear the staff cannot handle the amount of work it takes to get this problem under control.
And, remember that now infamous declaration made by Fort Myers Beach Community Services Administrator Daphne Saunders proudly proclaimed to the town council, back in April, that the town wasn’t enforcing the “many” violations being perpetrated by jet ski operators. Saunders wouldn’t make that claim today. At least 4 jet ski operators have been written warnings, including every location of Mid-Island Water Sports, Banana Boats Tours & Rides listed to Lawrence Swan, Wind & Water Sports listed to Robert Ramadon and Adventure Water Sports listed to Jason Newton.
The current town ordinance (which is being re-worked by the town manager and the town attorney) states that all equipment must come off the beach or put behind a dune every night during turtle season. Hatchlings can get caught under equipment as they try to find their way to the water. Vendors are not allowed to place their equipment back onto the beach until they get the early morning OK from Turtle Time that the sand is clear from nests.
The Fort Myers Beach town council has been pushing staff to step up enforcement. They believe that when fines are eventually issued the behavior will change. Those that walk the beach every night and send us pictures have said the situation is getting better but clearly there is still a long way to go.