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Learn about wildlife at Lover’s Key

June 12, 2019
By LEAH SANKEY (lsankey@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Lover's Key State Park held their first sea turtle talk on Friday, June 7. They will be holding more educational presentations with a focus on conservation, throughout the month of June. These presentations will feature information on sea turtles, manatees, gopher tortoises, birding, fishing, and even nature photography.

Each presentation begins at 10 a.m. and requires reservations. Call Lover's Key at 239-463-4588 for more information and to make a reservation.

Friday's sea turtle talk was held under a pavilion on the beach, and was led by William Lange, a Lover's Key park ranger.

Article Photos

A skull and shell of a loggerhead turtle, the most common sea turtle in Florida.

LEAH SANKEY

These fascinating creatures are prehistoric in fact, they've remained mostly unchanged for 110 million years.

Sea turtles are air breathing, a normal dive for them is about 4-5 minutes long. A resting sea turtle can lay underwater from anywhere to 4-7 hours. On average, they live for 40-60 years.

There are seven species of sea turtle: green turtle, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead, olive ridley, Kemp's ridley, and flatback. All of these sea turtles can be found in Florida except the olive ridley and flatback. Lover's Key State Park held their first sea turtle talk

Loggerheads are the most common sea turtle in Florida, and one of the larger sea turtles. According to Lange, these turtles range from 275-500 pounds, on average. Currently, each nest at Lover's Key is believed to be a loggerhead nest, said Lange.

Sea turtles dig more than 4,000 nests in Florida State Parks every year. Nesting season runs from May-Oct. Sea turtle eggs and baby sea turtles have numerous predators about 1% of the eggs laid reach maturity. This is why park rangers and volunteers at Lover's Key patrol the beaches each morning in search of nests and put cages atop the nests. These cages protect the nests from predators but have enough space in between the wires so that the sea turtles can get out after hatching.

"When in doubt, we put a cage on the nest anyway," said Lange.

All species of sea turtles are either listed as endangered or threatened, which means they are protected by law. The majority of the threats that sea turtles face are caused by humans. To protect these living fossils, you can limit your use of single use plastics, especially plastic bags which sea turtles often mistake for food. You can help the hatchlings by not lighting the beaches at night, keeping the lights from disorienting the sea turtles.

 
 

 

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