Here’s a feel-good story that comes with a reminder that our actions, even when we’re having fun on vacation, can directly impact the well-being of delicate local marine life.
Four sea turtle hatchlings recently found themselves in a dangerous situation down on Holmes Beach. An attentive Holmes Beach Code Enforcement officer discovered the tiny turtles trapped in a hole left behind by daytime beachgoers.
The beach patrols are trained in what to do in these situations. The officer reached out to a local organization called Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring. With the combined efforts of vigilant beach patrols and dedicated organizations, the trapped sea turtles were given a helping hand and released back into the Gulf.
Florida sea turtles, when newly hatched, have to make it from the beach, into the ocean and out to an area where there are floating masses of sargassum seaweed beyond the high tide line. That’s their habitat for the next few years as they grow and mature.
Holes left by tourists, trash, beach chairs and other debris are obstacles that can make a sea turtle hatchling waste precious energy on the beach that they are supposed to be saving for a very long swim.
Our Beaches – A Sensitive Environment
At The Waterfront Restaurant, we’re about as much a part of the local beach habitat as a restaurant can get. We’re footsteps from the beach with great views of the Anna Maria Island City Pier and the beautiful Gulf. As such, many of our guests choose to take an evening stroll out on the beach after joining us for dinner or drinks.
Here’s some things to do to make yourself a responsible beachgoer at night. While our guests aren’t the types to leave holes, chairs or trash out on the beach, we do want to share some of the things to be aware of on Anna Maria Island beaches at night. The things you do have a direct effect on mature and hatchling sea turtles and other wildlife.
1. Keep Beaches Dark: Turn off non-essential lights after sundown. If necessary, use long-wavelength amber LED lamps to minimize disturbance. There’s a reason so many houses on the waterfront look so dark on their beach-facing side.
2. Avoid Flash Photography: In the nighttime environment, refrain from taking flash photos or using bright cellphones or flashlights. These can disorient sea turtles and lead them away from the ocean.
3. Give Space: If you encounter a sea turtle on the beach, maintain a respectful distance. Never touch a nesting turtle, as it might abandon its nesting attempt.
But most of all, enjoy your visit
At The Waterfront Restaurant, we encourage all our guests and beachgoers to embrace this collective effort to preserve the beauty of our coastline and the incredible creatures that call it home.
So, as you enjoy the stunning sunset views during your visit and consider a leisurely stroll on the beach after your meal, remember that being even a little bit mindful of conservation can make a big difference.