and neon tape. When the nest hatches, the
hatchlings crawl to the water. The Coastal
Wildlife Club, (coastalwildlifeclub.org) is an
excellent source of information.
The loggerhead is classified as a
threatened species and the green turtle,
which also nests on our beaches but is
much rarer, is endangered. Just 1 in 1,000
loggerheads survive to maturity.
The U.S. Endangered Species Act and
the Florida Marine Turtle Protection
Act protect sea turtles. Regulations limit
the amount of artificial light homes and
businesses can utilize on the beach, and
prohibit leaving large items like furniture
overnight in nesting areas. Sea Turtle
Ordinances in Charlotte, Lee, and Sarasota
counties are available from the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Commission at www.myfwc.
This gentle giant, sometimes called a
sea cow, is Florida’s state marine mammal.
These wrinkly gray and brown herbivores
can grow to 10 - 12 feet long, weigh about
1,000 pounds and can live up to 60 years
in the wild. They like warm, shallow waters
and communicate with squeaks, squeals,
chirps and clicks. Manatees are slow
swimmers and are threatened by increases or
decreases in water temperatures, destruction
of their habitat, and inattentive boaters.
The manatee is on the endangered species
list, and their populations are constantly
monitored. Learn more at www.myfwc.com.
The most common species of dolphin
living in Florida waters is the bottlenose
dolphin. These playful marine mammals
can grow from 6 to 12 feet long and live
into their 50s. Their diet consists of
fish and some invertebrates. They are
A manatee snacking on mangroves in Lemon Bay. Photo by Kim Stanberry.