Nearly four weeks into sea turtle nesting season, 89 homes, businesses and condo buildings on Fort Myers Beach have been issued warnings for violating the town sea turtle ordinance. After a scan of those warnings, we did not uncover any actual fines levied. This picture of the Creciente condo building was taken last night.
86 of the violations listed on the town website are listed as “under investigation.” Three violations have been updated to complete/closed/compliant. It could be that the paperwork has not yet been updated on many of the violations. It’s a tall task to stay on top of the problem. One night a light may shine bright, the next night, it may be off. Once a violation is spotted, town staff must notify the property owner, give them time to correct the situation, then go back out and inspect the property again. A rental house could be empty of renters one night and full of out-of-town renters who don’t know the rules the next night.
The town council instructed staff to crack down harder on property owners who violate the sea turtle nesting ordinance, including the issuance of fines. They believe that word will spread that the town is serious about getting them into compliance if fines are issued.
Warnings are not only being written for the bright lights left on at night. They are also being written for beach furniture and other equipment left on the beach. All equipment must be removed from the beach (or behind a dune) at night and not put back on the beach on the morning until given the all clear from a Turtle Time representative. Turtle Time volunteers check for nests every morning during turtle season.
Hatchlings need a direct path to the water, which is why it’s also important all holes are filled in and sand castles knocked down every night. They are drawn to the water by the light of the moon. They can become disoriented and confused when they see a bright light from the beach. They can also get stuck under obstructions on the beach. They do not have a lot of energy so it’s important they make one dash toward the water, unobstructed, so they have the best chance of survival.
Turtle season runs through the end of October.