WATCH OUT FOR WASHBACKS!
The east coast of Florida is getting a lot of sargassum sea weed washing up on the beaches. This means that we’re also getting post-hatchlings sea turtles washing in with sargassum as well. (A post-hatchling sea turtle is a hatchling that has successfully exited the nest and swam out to the sargassum line about 20-25 miles off shore.) These little guys blend in with perfectly with the sargassum and makes them hard to spot.
Please do not go out looking for the post-hatchling washbacks. Rest assured that STPS has trained personnel on the beaches as a part of STERP (Sea Turtle Emergency Response Program) which is permitted by FWC. However, if you happen to find hatchlings and post-hatchlings on the beach, please use the following protocols.
1. DO NOT put the hatchling or post-hatchling back into the ocean. They do not have enough energy to swim back to the sargassum line.
2. DO NOT put the hatchling in water or air conditioning. This could further injure or kill the sea turtle.
3. Put the hatchling or post-hatching in a container on a damp towel or paper towel. NO water, sea weed or sand in the container, please. Cover with a cloth.
4. Call STPS Emergency Hotline at 321-206-0646 and follow the instructions that you will be given. You may also call the Turtle House at 321-676-1701. The Turtle House is located at 111 S. Miramar in Indialantic with operating hours 11am – 5pm Monday through Saturday.
If you happen to find an exposed nest, please DO NOT touch the eggs and follow these steps:
1. Cover with sand, if possible.
2. Call the Emergency Hotline at 321-206-0646
3. DO NOT attempt to touch or collect the eggs yourself. Disturbing the nest or eggs could kill the hatchlings.
|A washback in the sargassum sea weed. Photo credit to The Sea Turtle Hospital at UF Whitney Lab|