Ways to Protect Sea Turtles

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The Gulf waters of Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, Florida are home to thousands of sea turtles. Unfortunately, poor boating and fishing practices risk the lives of these magnificent creatures every day.

Help to make their home a safer place by following these fishing and boating practices.

Do Not Litter

Litter, such as plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, plastic bottles and sandwich wrappers, puts the lives of  sea turtles’ in danger.

When boating, DO NOT toss trash overboard or leave it behind after fishing on the beach. Sea turtles often mistaken for trash for food common to their diets. Look below, you might be surprised how similar a jellyfish looks to a floating plastic bag.  If digested, trash can cause sea turtles digestive disturbances or death by choking.  

It is also possible for them to become caught in the floating garbage, inhibiting their ability to swim, eat and live. Sea turtles remain in the ocean for their entire life, except when females are nesting. Improperly disposed trash that washes ashore could trap nesting sea turtles and/or hatchlings headed for home in the Gulf. 

Watch the video embedded below. Don’t be the reason a tiny hatchling never makes it home. Save sea turtles’ lives. Throw away your trash.

Dispose Properly of Hooks & Fishing Line

In 2013, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) in Sanibel Island, reported treating a total of 107 marine animals for monofilament injuries, also known as hook-and-line injuries—a 25 percent increase from the previous year. Monofilament injuries occur when wildlife becomes mangled or caught on carelessly discarded hooks and/or fishing line.

Below are fishing tips for preventing monofilament injuries:

  • Stow used line until it is safely disposed.
  • Dispose of monofilament properly by placing it in local monofilament recycling bins and at drop-off locations.
  • Use biodegradable line and lures. They work just as well!

Follow Sanibel’s Dark Sky Ordinance

“When hatchlings emerge at night, they head toward the brightest horizon. Normally, that is out into the Gulf. But when coastal homes and condos have unshielded interior or exterior lights on, hatchlings will head up into the dune toward the light, where they will die.” SCCF Report  (July 2014)

Whether you are on land or on the Gulf, it is important to follow the island’s Dark Sky Ordinances. If you are fishing at night in the dark and approaching land, please dim boat lights and make sure to shine spot lights away from the shoreline to protect nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.

Emergency Wildlife Information

Together, we can make Sanibel Island safer for sea turtles and other wildlife in and out of the Gulf.  At Port Sanibel Marina, we are committed to improving wildlife conservation by educating boaters and fishers.

If you find an injured, deceased, or harassed sea turtle, or need to report someone disturbing a sea turtle nest, please call the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) – Cellular phone *FWC or #FWC.