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Sea Turtle Nesting Season Tips for Beachgoers

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News at 10) - "There's a lot of wonderful non-profits in the Tampa Bay region," said Founder and President of Tampa Bay Watch, Peter Clark. "We're all working together to make and improve the Tampa Bay estuary."

Restoring and protecting Tampa Bay's wildlife since 1993, the Pinellas County-based nonprofit spearheads community-driven restoration projects. "We rebuild salt marsh, we reconstruct oyster shell reefs and oyster reef domes, reef balls out in the Tampa Bay estuary," he said.

As sea turtle nesting season begins this weekend, they're restoring knowledge.

"This time of year, we're starting to have sea turtles nest along our beaches and these are wonderful beaches that accommodate a lot of tourism as well as recreation," said Clark.

As local nonprofits work to protect the hatchlings, rules will go into effect starting Sunday.

"We're patrolling every mile of beach looking for new sea turtle nests and then once those nests are actually labeled, we'll be checking on them for any activity," said team members from the MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. "We're able to track nesting numbers and nesting success on each of the different beaches that we have as well as providing that info to a higher level at the state."

"Sea turtles are extremely rare and endangered in many cases, so we need to take every opportunity that we can to have a successful nest," said Clark. "Not to go and look at the nest. If a mother is coming to shore, to leave her alone."

"The biggest thing that anyone can do, especially the ones that live near the beach, is turn off your lights," said the team at MOTE. "Pick up any trash you see, fill in any holes."

"When they, the babies, come out of the nest, they generally want to walk toward the water, but sometimes they become disoriented by lights from condominiums, street lights, or from the different hotels up and down the beach, and they wander into areas where they don't belong," Clark added. And if you see a hatchling walking in the wrong direction, you're not supposed to touch them. Call the closest aquarium, licensed organization, or state officials to make sure the hatchlings get to the safest place.

And there's more you can do to help the endangered species. Click here for more ways to get involved.

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