Unless you’re watching closely, you’ll probably never see it happen. Every year between May and October, 50,000 female sea turtles plod their way in the middle of the night onto the same Florida beaches where they were born more than 30 years before, where they dig a hole in the sand with their flippers and lay a clutch of almost 200 eggs before sliding back out into the ocean depths. Two months later, thousands of young turtles will pull themselves out of the beach sand, and by the light of the moon, rush into the surf for the first swim of their long lives.
Modern Challenges to the Sea Turtle Population
Coastal development over the last few decades has not only ripped up nesting beaches, but also lights from nearby homes and resorts confuse the newly hatched turtles and draw them inland toward highways, buildings, and parking lots, rather than heading straight into the sea. Development, lights from residential and commercial buildings, and other dangers, such as fishing nets from ocean trawlers, have put the world’s seven species of sea turtles in dire straits.
How LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort Is Helping
The resort, a 64-acre slice of land on the Gulf of Mexico in Naples, is doing its part to preserve the sea turtles by using the swath of beach right in front of the hotel as hatching grounds. During nesting season, the resort and guests are asked to completely close their drapes after 9 p.m. to keep the beach dark and the turtles headed in the right direction. Beyond that, education is the cornerstone of the program. Upon arrival, visitors receive information on the conservancy project and are given turtle pins. Children receive a sea turtle activity book that tells the story of the amazing endangered reptiles. LaPlaya has also donated $25,000 of in-kind services to the conservancy, hosting visiting researchers, holding fund-raisers, and doing whatever it can to help the nonprofit group restore turtle populations in the gulf.
How Guests Can Help Support the Sea Turtles
During Loggerhead Sea Turtle nesting season, May 1 through October 31, book an eco-friendly Sea Turtle Suite Package at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort. A percentage of proceeds are donated to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
Included in the package:
- Participation in the Sea Turtle Adoption Program
- Two admission tickets to the Conservancy Nature Center
- “Turtle-tweet” alerts for on-property sea turtle sightings and upcoming releases