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Marine Turtle Protection

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Chapter 100: Marine Turtle Protection

Green Sea Turtle on the ocean floorOn July 5, 2016, the Town of Longboat Key adopted Ordinance 2016-15 for the protection of marine turtles under Chapter 100 of the Town's code of ordinances.

Below is some basic information on how the ordinance affects visitors, businesses, and property owners.

Marine Turtle Nesting Season

Marine turtle nesting season is from May 1st - October 31st of each year

New Developments

According to the definition of "new developments" under the ordinance, new developments include new construction and remodeling of existing structures when such remodeling includes alteration of exterior lighting or replacement of any glass or glazing. The provisions of the ordinance applies to all developments water ward of the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL), or if the development creates any artificial light that will be visible from the beach.

New developments that have not yet received a building permit or are remodeling any existing structures when such remodeling includes alteration of exterior lighting or replacement of any glass or glazing are subject to new lighting standards, including:

  • Utilizing Certified Wildlife Lighting fixtures & bulbs
  • Installing low-mounted fixtures whenever possible
  • Tint or film glass with an inside-to-outside light transmittance value of 45% or less

Existing Developments

According to the definition of "existing development" under the ordinance, existing developments are defined as any building or structure for which a building permit has been issued prior to the adoption of the ordinance. The provisions of the ordinance applies to all artificial light sources on all existing developments and existing structures that are visible from the beach, and requires all existing developments and existing structures compliance within six months of the effective date of the ordinance.

Existing developments that have already received a building permit and/or a certificate of occupancy are subject to new exterior lighting standards, and would be given the following options to resolve exterior lighting issues if a violation exists:

  • Remove, disable, or turn lights off
  • Plant or improve vegetation buffers
  • Construct ground-level barriers
  • Replace fixtures & bulbs with Certified Wildlife Lighting fixtures & bulbs
  • Retrofit fixtures

Existing developments are also subject to new interior lighting standards, and would be given the following options to resolve interior lighting issues if a violation exists:

  • Turn lights off
  • Utilize window treatments
  • Rearrange movable fixtures
  • Tint or film glass with an inside-to-outside light transmittance value of 45% or less

Temporary Structures & Portable Recreational Equipment

According to the ordinance "temporary structures" are defined as any human-made structures or objects with a location or arrangement that is temporary or transient in nature, and includes, but is not limited to, beach furniture, tents, canopies chairs, umbrellas, and cabanas. "Portable recreational equipment" is defined as any human-made object with a location or arrangement that is temporary or transient in nature, and includes, but is not limited to, inflatable recreational equipment, grills, volleyball nets, coolers, fishing equipment, and watercraft.

All temporary structures and portable recreational equipment are required to be removed from the beach from 11:00 p.m. - 5:00 a.m. daily during marine turtle nesting season, with the exception of temporary structures that are relocated as close to the dune, but not on the dune or on native vegetation, providing the following:

  • Temporary structures shall not be placed on the dune or native vegetation
  • Temporary structures shall be stored in a neat and orderly manner as much as possible
  • Temporary structures shall not inhibit access to the beach or placed on any beach access
  • Temporary structures shall not adversely impact native vegetation or marine turtles
  • Where no dune or native vegetation exist, temporary structures shall be relocated as close as practicable to an existing permanent structure or line of buildings

Any temporary structures or items of portable recreational equipment that are stored in violation of the ordinance shall be deemed to be abandoned by the owner and shall be tagged or removed from the beach by Town staff and temporarily stored at a safe location off the beach. If the items are not reclaimed in person by the owner within 90 days of removal, the items may be disposed of pursuant to Chapter 705.103 of the Florida Statute.

Prohibited Activities on the Beach

In addition to lighting restrictions and restrictions on temporary structures and portable recreational equipment, the ordinance also prohibits the following activities on the beach daily:

  • Transient lighting which purposely illuminates nesting sea turtles or hatchlings
  • The operation of all motorized vehicles
  • Engage in promotional or commercial activities or otherwise hold a special event without first obtaining a special events permit
  • Start a fire, other than fires used for cooking and contained in a grill or stove
  • Throw, place, or deposit any paper, food, trash, cans, bottles or other refuse
  • Launch a motorized vessel by bringing it across the beach
  • Golf, put, or chip
  • Possess any pet or animal on the beach, with the exception of service animals.

If you feel a violation exists or if you have questions or concerns about marine turtle , please contact Longboat Key Code Enforcement.

Report Stranded Sea Turtles & Marine Mammals

Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program responds 24 hours a day, seven days a week to reports of sick, injured and dead marine mammals and sea turtles for animals in Sarasota and Manatee county waters.

Within Sarasota or Manatee county waters, if you see a stranded or dead dolphin, whale or sea turtle, please call Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program a 24-hour response service, at (941) 988-0212.

If you see a stranded or dead manatee anywhere in state waters or a stranded or dead dolphin, whale or sea turtle outside of Sarasota or Manatee counties, please call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at 1 (888) 404-FWCC (3922).

If you see anyone harass, injure, or kill any sea turtles, or dig up or damage any hatchling nests on the beaches of Longboat Key, please call the Longboat Key Police Department at (941) 316-1201.