Turtle Season is Underway


And that means lights out on the beach, all beach furniture needs to be pulled back and the holes the kids dug in the sand during the day must be filled in. Let’s take a closer look at the town’s ordinance to protect the turtles.

Any given morning if you’ve walked the beach in the dark up until now you’ve seen a lot of bright white lights on buildings, trash and furniture left out from the night before, and holes big enough to bury a dead body. That all has to change this Sunday.

If you have a home on the beach, if you own a business on the beach or if you’re staying in a hotel room on the beach, any lights you’re using other than turtle-friendly FWC approved lights must be off at night. Even if you do not live directly on the beach, if there’s a light on your home, business or street corner that can be seen from the beach, it must be turned off at night Lights that can be seen on the beach have the potential to disorient hatchlings.

It’s more than just the lights…

According to the Fort Myers Beach turtle ordinance no man-made objects are allowed to obstruct sea turtle nesting habitat. And, that habitat includes the entire length of the beach, from the mean low water line to the vegetation.

The town ordinance says obstructions include beach furniture, cabanas, umbrellas, tents, personal watercraft, bikes, vehicles and boats. All of these objects must be removed from the beach between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. during sea turtle nesting season, which runs through October.

The ordinance also states that between 9PM and 7AM during turtle nesting season personal watercraft equipment must be removed from the beach and placed behind the dune line. If there is no dune line, the ordinance says, the equipment must be moved at least 200 feet from the water line at all times. If there is no dune line and the beach is less than 200 feet wide, the equipment must be moved to a permanent structure and landward of any seawall.

The ordinance goes on to say that during sea turtle nesting season, beach furniture vendors are not allowed to place beach furniture onto the beach before 9:00 a.m., or prior to the completion of daily monitoring for sea turtle nesting activity by an FWC authorized marine turtle permit holder, whichever comes first.

Turtle Time has volunteers that walk the beach every morning during turtle nesting season. We are told they try to have their monitoring complete by 7:30 to allow the vendors to start setting up for the day. By waiting until 9AM every day, the businesses would be losing at least two hours of setting up operation.

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