From the City of Sanibel:
Hey Sanibel Beachgoers!
Let’s leave the digging to the turtles…
Long before beachgoers arrived on Sanibel’s pristine beaches, sea turtles have been coming ashore to lay their eggs. After crawling out of the water, a female sea turtle uses her flippers to make an exhausting trek up the beach looking for a good spot to deposit her eggs. Once she finds a spot, she will spend hours digging, first creating a body pit and then a smaller egg chamber into which she will deposit her eggs. Immediately after laying the final egg, the turtle will use her back flippers to push sand over the exposed egg chamber and then throw and push sand backwards with her front flippers to pile sand on top of the nest. This step ensures the nest is protected and difficult for predators to locate. After the long and strenuous process, she crawls back to the Gulf. Nearly two months later, her hatchlings will emerge and make their own perilous trek to the sea.
Unfortunately, perhaps inspired by the impressive sea turtle or simply responding to a social media challenge, human beachgoers are digging bigger and deeper holes than ever before. But unlike the sea turtle who fills in the hole she has created, many beachgoers leave the beach without doing the same!
Unfilled holes are severe safety hazards for humans, sea turtles, and other wildlife. A broken ankle (or worse) is a sure-fire way to ruin a perfect Sanibel beach day! And for sea turtles, young and old, anything that obstructs their path to or from the ocean can be deadly. Holes in the sand are especially harmful to sea turtle and shorebird hatchlings who can easily become trapped making them vulnerable to predators, dehydration, exhaustion, and death.
So what can YOU do to be a Sanibel Beach Hero? We’re glad you asked!
Leave the digging to the sea turtles. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy a beach day on Sanibel … swim, shell, birdwatch, & relax to name a few.
If you must dig, take a lesson from the sea turtle, and fill it in completely before leaving the beach.
If you notice a fellow beachgoer digging with fervor, politely remind them to finish the job and fill in their hole before they leave. DIGGING a hole is only HALF the fun!
If you encounter a hole that has not been filled in and you have some spare time, have at it and fill it in yourself. You’ll get a workout, and you might be a hero to a sea turtle hatchling!
If a hole is too much for you to handle, please report the hole to the Sanibel Public Works Department at 239-472-6397.
Thanks to all our Beach Heroes for following these tips to keep Sanibel’s beaches safe and enjoyable for humans & wildlife.