Tuesday 22 September, 2020

Disoriented green turtle loses way and falls in swimming pool

Photo credit | Janice Blumenthal

Photo credit | Janice Blumenthal

During summer, the Department of Environment often gets calls about disoriented sea turtles and freshwater turtles (hickatees) that have come on land and can get themselves into dangerous situations.

On August 15, a female green turtle was spotted in the swimming pool of a Seven Mile Beach condominium complex. The turtle was trying to nest when she lost her way and accidentally fell in the pool. Residents quickly alerted the Department of the Environment (DoE) Turtle Hotline and a rescue was coordinated by DoE Chief Conservation Officer, Mark Orr. DoE staff, volunteers, and condo residents assisted in removing the turtle from the pool and transporting her to the beach where she crawled into the ocean.

Only July 26, turtle volunteer, Amanda Brown discovered a disoriented green turtle that had gotten stuck in a cemetery. According to her, "I came across a sea turtle nest with tracks leading into a nearby cemetery. This green sea turtle became disoriented after nesting and walked all throughout the cemetery before getting stuck between several graves. Thankfully with the help of a DoE conservation officer, the incredible Lorri Lamb, and another volunteer we managed to lift the green sea turtle out from between the graves and guided her back down to the beach where she could return to the ocean. It was marvelous to see this green sea turtle up close, however scary to see just how close she was to ending up on a busy nearby road. Sadly disorientations of adult sea turtles and hatchlings are all to common due to beach front development and lights.'

Photo Credit | Amanda Brown

What can you do?

If your property is on the beachfront, turn off beachfront lights when turtle nests are hatching, and contact the DoE about turtle nesting. Every summer, thousands of baby turtles are affected by lights on the beach. Misorientation of adult turtles is rare but can be a serious threat to these endangered animals. Please help by using turtle friendly lighting and maintaining or planting buffers of vegetation between developments and the beach.

If you find a sea turtle on land please call the DoE's Turtle hotline at 938-NEST (938-6378).

Learn to differentiate between sea turtles and hickatees. The easiest way to tell the difference is by looking at their feet: sea turtles have paddle-like flippers and hickatees have toes and claws.

Hickatees found in unsafe areas can be released into a natural pond. 

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