Wildlife officials warned residents along Florida’s east coast on Friday to be careful if they see small sea turtles that may have been affected by Hurricane Irene.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that if beachgoers spot a stranded hatchling not near the water, it would be OK to bring it directly to a specified turtle rehabilitation facility. Officials said this would be acceptable just because of the special circumstances related to the storm.
Also, if eggs are found rolling around, officials recommend leaving them alone because the chances of survival to become a hatchling are minimal.
FWC recommends putting the hatchling on a damp cloth or towel in a small container, covering it and keeping it in the shade, but not under air conditioning. Don’t put the sea turtle in water, and don’t crowd it.
It is illegal to possess a sea turtle or its eggs without an appropriate permit.
FWC said several species of sea turtles are federally endangered species, and Loggerhead turtles are a federally threatened species.
Officials also said there are penalties for anyone who removes turtle eggs from the beach without consent of the FWC.
The following centers can take in sea turtles anytime:
Miami Seaquarium, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Florida Oceanographic Society, Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge & Hobe Sound Nature Center, Sea Turtle Preservation Society, Barrier Island Sanctuary, Marine Science Center.
For information call the wildlife alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).