Update received about the turtle nest!

Here’s the information we received:

Congratulations!!! Your nest hatched on Wednesday, August 13, 2008.

There were 79 eggs in the nest and 67 tiny sea turtles, each the size of a 50 cent piece made their way to the ocean. Sea turtles hatch at night! It really is an amazing event to watch. It looks like a small volcano erupting as baby sea turtles make their way out of the nest and take that long walk along the beach to the ocean.

How do the sea turtles find their way to the ocean? When they emerge from their nest, they look for the brightest light that they can see. The moonlight reflecting on the ocean surface gives off quite a glow and that’s how they know to head to the ocean. But, there’s a challenge facing these hatchlings. If beachfront property owners have left their lights on at night and they shine on the beach, sea turtles get confused. They will move toward the bright light from someone’s home rather than go to the water. That’s why Disney’s Vero Beach Resort has special signs asking guests to keep their drapes closed at night, and why back porch lights are disabled for the summer. So, if you are ever staying on the beach at night during sea turtle nesting season, please make sure that your lights and your neighbor’s lights are turned off!

Now that the hatchlings are in the water, they will spend the first 24 hours swimming as fast as they can without stopping to reach the safety of the deeper water. There they will hide in the floating seaweed and grasses where they will be safe from predators and will be able to feed undisturbed on tiny crustaceans and sea grasses.

Here’s the most amazing thing about sea turtles. The baby female sea turtles (hatchlings) will not return to Florida to nest for the first time until they are 20-30 years of age!! They will be swimming in the ocean for quite a long time before they ever come back to our beaches. And the male sea turtles will never come back to the beach. They will spend their entire life in ocean.

Everyone can help to keep the ocean and beaches safe for turtles. Volunteer for beach cleanups and encourage everyone to leave nothing behind to help reduce the amount of trash that is on the beach and in our oceans. Turtles can often confuse floating plastic bags and plastic straws as food items since they look similar to jellyfish and sea grasses. At Disney’s resort, guests are not offered plastic lids and straws to help keep the turtles safe. When they consume this “trash” they can become very sick so please help us to keep the oceans and the beaches safe for wildlife!

Your hatchlings are off to a great start and now it is up to you to ensure that sea turtles continue to have a future in the wild! Thank you so much for helping the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund protect sea turtles through the Adopt-A-Nest program.

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