Turtle Time volunteers discovered a near-disaster while patrolling Fort Myers Beach on Tuesday morning, June 25, when they found a turtle nest somehow successfully created directly underneath a jet ski left on the beach in front of the dune line the previous night. “We ask that people remove tents, toys, and beach paraphernalia of all kinds from the beach at night during sea turtle nesting season,” implored Eve Haverfield, founder of Turtle Time, Inc., a non-profit established in 1989 to benefit nesting marine turtles on Big Hickory Island and Bonita, Bunche, and Fort Myers Beaches. “Store beach furniture, jet skis, and all items behind and not in front of dune vegetation.”
In this almost-tragedy, the nesting sea turtle wanted to reach the dune behind the jet ski and cabana, Haverfield said, “but got stuck under it. Luckily, she bulldozed her way out after depositing her eggs. The Town of Fort Myers Beach regulations require that beach equipment be stored behind or landward of dunes, and in the absence of dunes, pull items back to buildings. This is the second time that a turtle has gotten stuck under a jet ski on Fort Myers Beach, though the previous one was at a different location. Fortunately, the beach vendor has now removed all obstacles from in front of the dunes, as he was horrified by the situation.”
The primary bane to nesting turtles is artificial light from beach properties that draw them away from the water, with few hatchlings surviving. “Please switch to Amber LED lights, as these are turtle-friendly!” Close drapes and blinds after dark, never shine a flashlight or use flash photography on sea turtles, keep dogs on a leash, and fill in any holes dug into the sand as hatchlings and adult turtles can fall in and die.
By Gary Mooney