Mornings With Gina Birch

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Sea Turtle nesting season is underway in Southwest Florida. The season became official Monday, May 1st and runs through October 31. According to officials, last year’s nesting season was extremely successful and had wrapped up, for the most part, before Hurricane Ian washed out local beaches and nests. So what about this year? It’s not the hurricane fallout that has biologists concerned for sea turtles this summer. Instead, it is the sargassum, thick piles of seaweed, that could hinder female turtles making their way onto the beach to dig a nest.

There are five species of sea turtles that call Florida home. Each one of them is either on the endangered or threatened list. All of them are protected meaning you could face legal trouble for disturbing them in anyway. Admire from a distance.

Sea turtle nesting

Sea turtle nesting season is underway in Southwest Florida.

How to protect sea turtle and their nests

There are a few things you can do to help sea turtles survive in Southwest Florida.. First, do not disturb turtle nests. Most of them will be marked off. However, newer ones could be exposed. Do not assist or startle female turtles attempting to make a nest.

Next, dim outdoor lights if you live on or are staying on the beach. Limit flashlights at night and don’t use a flash when capturing photos of hatchlings making their way to the water. Baby turtles follow the moonlight to reach the water. Light from other sources disorients them.

Finally, if you dig holes at the beach for kids or even your umbrellas, fill them in. The tiny turtles could easily get stuck in one of these holes and never make it to the water. And never leave anything behind.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a great resource to learn about sea turtles and how to protect and appreciate them. You may even book evening walks with volunteers to observe nests, catch a mama turtle in action, or best of all, see a next come alive with hundreds of hatchlings.

Seven Out Of The Ten Most Dangerous Beaches In The US Are In Florida

Living in The Sunshine State, we have the luxury of going to the beach whenever we please, but seven out of the ten most dangerous beaches in the US are in Florida.

Since the hurricane, I just started back with my beach days about a month ago. So far, I’ve checked out Vanderbilt Beach in Naples, Fort Myers Beach and both Tarpon Bay and Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel. I realized just how much I missed my beach days while cleanup efforts were underway. Whether you’re staying local or traveling to other parts of the state, beaches can be dangerous. Of course, we don’t like to think about that part as we’re laying out, enjoying a cocktail, maybe playing a little volleyball. But unfortunately, something you look at as being fun and relaxing can come with some hazards that could even be deadly.

Recently, Travel Lens looked at different beaches around the US in terms of surfing deaths, hurricanes and shark attacks. What might not surprise you is that the deadliest beaches are along the East Coast. So thankfully here in SWFL, we have less to worry about. Though, that’s not to say you shouldn’t be careful. Fox put together a list of the top 10 most dangerous beaches in the country and seven of them are right here in Florida. You can check out the full list here, but let’s see where beaches in Florida rank.

Most Dangerous Beaches in Florida:

  • 10. Fort Lauderdale

    Fort Lauderdale has a danger score of 5.37 out of 10. This beach has seen three surf deaths and two shark attacks. Fort Lauderdale has also seen 120 hurricanes since 1851.

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  • 7. Jacksonville Beach

    Jacksonville Beach has a danger score of 6.02 with three surfing fatalities, three shark attacks and 120 hurricane strikes.

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    (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

  • 6. Melbourne Beach

    Melbourne Beach is another beach on the East Coast of Florida and has a danger score of 6.35 out of 10. Melbourne Beach has seen three surfing deaths, six shark attacks and has seen 120 hurricanes since 1851.

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  • 4. Panama City Beach

    While Panama City Beach has only had two shark attacks, surfing deaths are high with 24 since 2010. Panama City Beach has a danger score of 7.16.

    IRONMAN Florida

    (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

  • 3. Ormond Beach

    Ormond Beach is another beach that has seen more surfing deaths (8) than shark attacks (4) and has a danger score of 7.48.

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    (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

  • 2. Cocoa Beach

    Cocoa Beach has a danger score of 7.57.

    Florida Prepares For The Arrival Of Hurricane Dorian

    (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • 1. New Smyrna Beach

    The most dangerous beach in the US is New Smyrna Beach with a danger score of 8.14. Just in the last 13 years, New Smyrna Beach has seen 10 surfing deaths and 32 shark attacks. The area has also seen 120 hurricanes since 1851.

    New Smyrna Beach

    Aerial view of beautiful summer day in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

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