Mother Nature gives our area a special gift for Mother’s Day
A Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle nested in South Walton on May 8. This is quite unusual as there were no Kemp’s Ridley nests laid last year in South Walton, however, there were 38 loggerhead nests in 2009.
Each year from May 1 – October 31, there are four species of Florida sea turtles that nest along the beach in South Walton County – Loggerhead, Green, Leatherback and on occasion, Kemp’s Ridley.
About Kemp’s ridley
Of the five sea turtle species that roam the Gulf of Mexico, the Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) is the smallest with an average length of 23 to 27.5 inches (58.5 to 70 cm) and average weight of 100 pounds (45 kg). The Kemp’s ridley is the only sea turtle with an almost circular upper shell. The young are dark gray in color but change as they mature. Adults are olive green above and yellow below.
What you can do to help
If you see a sea turtle, it is important to stay out of the sea turtle’s way. Do not put your hands on or near the turtle. Any distractions may frighten or disorient the turtle, causing a female to return to the ocean before finishing her nest.
If you own beach-front property, please remove obstacles on the beach which may impede the slow travel of these huge animals as they make their way up to the dune line to nest. Remove beach chairs, tables, water-sport items and any other obstacles. After nesting, be considerate of the hatchlings and make sure that they have a path to the water when it is time for them to hatch.
A lot of people like to dig holes in the sand. These are fine during the day but may pose additional hazards at night. Please refill these holes so that sea turtles and hatchlings do not get caught on their way to nest or to the water.
To learn more about our nesting turtles, click here
For more information about our local sea turtle volunteer organization visit: www.seaturtlewatch.com