TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - Wednesday, May 1 is the first day of sea turtle nesting season on Tybee Island.
There are some new rules in place on the beach this year, and they’re all meant to protect the sea turtles that use the island for mating and hatching.
First, keep the beaches dark. No cell phones or flashlights are allowed. They can stop the turtles from making it to the water. It is important to be sure that exterior beachfront lights are turned off by 10 p.m. to prevent turtle disorientation.
Second, keep the beaches clean and pick up after yourself. And third, fill in any holes you dig and knock down your sand castles because they can be obstacles for the turtles.
There are some serious fines if you break these rules. The ocean conservancy groups say Tybee's turtles are doing better in recent years.
“When I started 20 years ago, we were at an average of 3-7 nests per year. We’re well over that now. We’re breaking the 20-mark nests, which is good for Tybee. We’ll never reach a Cumberland which will always have the most, but Tybee’s done very well,” said Tammy Smith, Coordinator, Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project.
They also say to avoid interfering with the turtles. If you really want to get up close, you can visit the Tybee Island Marine Science Center.
“When the mom comes up to lay her nest, it usually takes an hour. If you’re lucky enough to see it, step back. Don’t take pictures. Let her do her thing. Once she returns back to the water, she doesn’t return to the nest. That’s where we come in and mark it. We monitor it. The babies come out anywhere from 60-70 days later,” Smith said.
Sea turtle season is May 1 through Oct. 31.