PALM BEACH, Fla., March 4 (UPI) -- Turtle nesting season officially began in Florida on the first day of March, and already, a leatherback has been spotted.
Leatherbacks are typically the first to arrive, followed by loggerheads in the spring, and green sea turtles in the summer. In 2012, a record number of loggerheads successfully laid eggs on Florida beaches. And last year, green turtles set a record.
More sea turtles nest on the sandy beaches of Florida's Atlantic coast than anywhere else in the U.S.
Florida and federal laws make it illegal to touch or disturb turtles or their nests. Wildlife officials typically patrol the beach at night on ATVs, watching for nesting turtles as they emerge from the waves.
Officials and concerned citizens mark the places where turtles lay and bury their eggs with little neon flags or posts so beach goers know not to step on them.
Property owners are reminded to turn off seaside lights, as unnatural light can confuse the turtles during their treks in and our of the water. Visitors are also reminded to clear any debris that might disrupt the turtle's crawl to the head of the beach.
“At the end of a day on the beach, remove beach furniture, fill in any holes dug in the sand and knock down sand castles,” Tom Longo, marketing director of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, told the Palm Beach Post.
Nesting season lasts through October.
[Palm Beach Post]