State Safety Measures

Individual states have also enacted legislation and ordinances for protecting the sea turtles that are landing on their own beaches. Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has enacted the Marine Turtle Protection Act. This act protects the sea turtles by stating that no one may take, mutilate, disturb or destroy the turtle, its nest or eggs at any time. Florida has also given coastal cities a model lighting ordinance to guide local governments turn down, or off, beachfront lighting. Researchers, scientists and volunteers feel that turning down the lights is helping the hatchlings find their way to the ocean. Along with the lighting assistance, volunteers are relocating nests, but only when necessary. Most people feel that if a turtle laid her eggs in a certain spot, she had a good reason for it. On the very populated beaches though, nests are being moved to protect the eggs. Also, screens and fences are being put up around nests so animals and humans will not disturb them.

Here along the North Carolina coast, many towns and individuals are helping with the lighting issue. Although there are no ordinances in the law books, volunteers from rescue teams are educating residents and vacationers about sea turtles and what they can do to help protect these large creatures while they are visiting and/or residing on the North Carolina beaches. Volunteers hold educational talks weekly in many towns where vacationers learn that keeping their outside lights on disorients the nesting and hatching turtles. If a hatching nest is near a house that has outside lights on, the volunteers will talk with the resident and ask them to turn off the lights. Once people realize what is happening, they are more than happy to turn off their lights. Most of the time, they will also venture to the beach with the rescue volunteers and stand watch over the nest and help the hatchlings make it to the ocean. On Topsail Island, the St. Regis Condominium complex has agreed to turn off the outside lights during the nesting and hatching months. Nests are also taped off and warning signs are placed around them so people are aware of the nests and will leave them alone.

Humans can do many things every day that will help the survival of the sea turtles. Cut the rings from the top of a six-pack before you throw it away, which will keep animals from getting their heads caught in it. Don't just let your plastic bags blow down the beach, keep track of them and dispose of them properly. If you have a house on the beach, try to keep your lights turned off during the night or use a special bulb that emits less light. Visit a place like the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center and give a donation of money to help support their efforts and those of other organizations found nationwide. See if you can volunteer your time, walk the beach to look out for new turtle nests or sit by a nest at night and guide the hatchlings toward the ocean. Sea turtles are graceful creatures that don't interfere with the lives of humans, so let's help them grow and regain numbers.

"For most of the wild things on Earth, the future must depend upon the conscience of mankind," stated Dr. Archie Carr, Father of Modern Marine Turtle Biology and Conservation.

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Terms: State Safety Measures, Loggerhead, Kemp's Ridley, North Carolina Beaches

Information on State Safety Measures, located on the Coast of North Carolina.

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