May marks the start of sea turtle nesting season in Southern Florida. Here’s how LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort gears up for their arrival, plus ways for guests to play a role.
At LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, gearing up for the summer season doesn’t mean redesigning the rooms or changing up seasonal dishes at the breakfast buffet. Instead, you’ll find new amenities, like tinted windows and artificial light restrictions, to make sure their favorite guests keep coming back: sea turtles, which nest along the beaches of Southwest Florida from May to September, including the private section of Vanderbilt Beach where LaPlaya resides. In fact, simple fixes are all it takes for LaPlaya and their guests to help get the sea turtles of Southwest Florida from eggshell to ocean.
The Turtle Species
The loggerhead sea turtle is the most common sea turtle in Florida, yet these 300-pound reptiles are still on the endangered list in the US and are considered endangered globally. Each year, from May to September, female loggerheads come to shore to lay anywhere from 100 to 125 ping-pong ball-sized eggs before slipping back into the water. These eggs have been the focus of state-wide changes to help preserve and bolster sea turtle numbers. And because LaPlaya’s stretch of beach is removed from the hectic public beach access, and, therefore, quieter, it’s a natural place for these leathery ladies to lumber.
How LaPlaya Helps
LaPlaya has partnered with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to make simple swaps that have a major impact for the turtles. The biggest change comes from how the resort is lit. Sea turtles hatch at night and head straight for the water, but the artificial lights of Florida’s cities and resorts can disorient the baby turtles and cause them to head away from the water. The easiest way to solve this problem was to add tinting to all of the resort’s windows to cancel out the light coming from within the resort. Outside lights have all been swapped out for “turtle-safe” designated lightbulbs. Another little way the resort is making a big difference is by removing all beach equipment and flattening out the sand every night so there is nothing in the way of the sea turtles reaching the water.
How You Can Help
The easiest way for you to make a difference is to practice “carry in, carry out” even on the resort’s private beach. After a day of lounging surfside, take an extra moment to make sure you’re taking everything you brought to the beach back with you. Food scraps can attract predators like sea birds and crabs who look at the baby turtles as a tasty dinner while trash and forgotten beach toys can create confusing obstacles that keep the newly-hatched turtles from making it to the water before daybreak.
Sea Turtle Conservancy Package
During nesting season, LaPlaya brings their special Sea Turtle Conservancy Package back, which in addition to luxurious accommodations for your stay includes a Sea Turtle welcome kit; opportunities for guests to help track sea turtle activity on property; and tickets to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, which is less than nine miles from the resort. At the conservancy, you’ll be able to explore the hospital exhibits and the touch tanks at the Discovery Center before seeing the turtles up close and personal at the Smith Preserve.