About our Organization
Sea turtles are among our most precious natural resources. Saltwater reptiles, they are graceful and well adapted to life in our oceans. Their aerodynamic bodies and flipper-like limbs enable sea turtles to cover great distances in the water in comparatively short periods of time. Active sea turtles will swim every few minutes to the oceans' surface to breathe. During resting periods, the turtles can remain underwater for up to 2 hours without breathing.
Sea turtles once roamed the oceans by the millions but over the past few centuries the demand for sea turtle meat, eggs, shell, leather and oil has greatly reduced their number. Turtle populations will continue to decline because of the trade in sea turtle products and because of the loss of essential habitat. Concern for the plight of sea turtles is growing and around the world, conservationists, governmental agencies, public and private organizations, corporations, and concerned individuals are working to protect sea turtles on nesting beaches and at sea.
Each summer, Florida beaches host the largest gathering of nesting sea turtles in the United States. The adult females emerge from the surf to deposit eggs in sand nests and later, tiny hatchlings struggle from these nests and scramble to the ocean. Nearly all of this activity takes place under cover of darkness.
Even though sea turtles are at home on the oceans, they are inextricably tied to the land too because the adult females must return to land to lay their eggs in a sandy beach. Scientific research has shown that the female turtles return to nest on the same beach where they were born. While the turtles often must swim long distances from their feeding grounds to their nesting beaches, just how they find their way to that nesting beach is still unknown.
From the middle of June till the end of October, eggs buried on the beaches of South Florida will spring hatchlings that dig their way out of the nest and race toward the ocean waters. During nesting season, turtles produce as many as 15,000 nests a year in Palm Beach County. About 1 million turtles emerge, about 50% to 70% of the total eggs laid, but researchers believe only 100 to 1000 survive to sexual maturity.
Sea Turtle Conservation League of Singer Island
The Sea Turtle Conservation League of Singer Island is one of the many not-for-profit volunteer organizations working for the preservation of these endangered reptiles. The League is made of up to 25 volunteers who patrol the approximately 2 1/2 mile length of beach on Singer Island, Florida extending from the southern boundary of MacArthur Beach State Park to the southern boundary of Riviera Municipal Beach. The group is authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to conduct nesting surveys daily, immediately after sunrise, from March 1 to October 31 of each year, to relocate nests when necessary, and to maintain and display preserved specimens. We would love to have you join our group of volunteers. If you think you would enjoy helping out please send us an E-mail and we'll get back to you right away.
We have nesting statistics records for you to examine for the Singer Island beach patrolled by the Conservation League. Our records cover nesting seasons from 1996 until the present.
The work of groups like the Sea Turtle Conservation League of Singer Island becomes more important each year even though all six species of U.S. sea turtle are protected by the 1973 Endangered Species Act. The threats to the continued existence and flourishing of the turtles are many. Thousands of sea turtles drown in shrimp trawls and fishing gear every year. Others perish after eating plastic debris mistaken for jellyfish or from other forms of pollution in the ocean. And, as coastal areas continue to be developed, the resulting loss of turtle habitat becomes a critical factor.
Development means lights in addition to buildings and people. Hatchling sea turtles are easily disoriented by artificial light sources from parking lots and homes. Hatchlings instinctively scramble from their nests to the ocean by turning towards the light of the moon on the water. If street or parking lot lights are too bright, the baby turtles will turn in the wrong direction and be killed by predators, exhaustion, or in traffic. Cooperative efforts by the various jurisdictional agencies and by citizens and local governments in coastal areas can go a long way towards solving the threat to turtles from artificial lighting and can do so without causing undue inconvenience or risking human safety.
* NOTES - Factual information based on the following pamphlets and flyers: Florida's Sea Turtles, written for Florida Power & Light Company, Miami, Florida by Victoria B. Van Meter, 1992; Sea Turtles, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources, 1996; Sea Turtles and Lights, Florida Power & Light Company, 1993.