Animal rescuer and photographer Doc Jon says he rescued 58 baby sea turtles on Monday night on Madeira Beach.
Jon says he received a call from friends that the babies were running away from the water. He blames lights from nearby condos and homes.
"There was no light from the moon at all so all they got is the light from the stars and now all they're seeing is the light coming from these buildings," said Doc Jon.
At least 50 turtles hatched from a nest on Madeira Beach on Monday night. They appeared lost and disoriented. A family visiting at a nearby condo believes the turtles got confused because of the lights left on near the beach. pic.twitter.com/ptbS7UhbKp
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Amber Moore is visiting with her family from Ohio. They are staying at a condo near the beach. They spotted the turtles going the wrong way.
"We came down and it was pretty dark out at the water...we just noticed something flapping at our feet and my husband realized it was turtles," said Amber Moore.
Moore and Jon spotted the turtles in the sea oats and in the dunes. They brought them to the water.
"If they're in imminent danger and the best choice is to pick them up and get them in the water then that would be the best choice," said Jon.
Sea turtle nesting season doesn't end until October 1. Typically, hatchlings use moonlight to find their way back to the water. Artificial lights can disorient them.
A city of Madeira Beach ordinance states light sources visible from the beach shall be turned off from sunset each night until sunrise each morning during the period of May 1 to October 31 of each year, or until all sea turtle nests are no longer present on the beach whichever is later.
"This is about an animal's life, an animal that's protected and we should care," said Jon.
Jon also urges beachgoers to fill any holes they may dig and remove all objects from the beach. These can pose issues for the hatchlings as they make their way back to the water.
City officials said there are at least 30 sea turtle nests on a 2-mile stretch of Madeira Beach. The majority of the nests have not hatched yet.
You can read more about sea turtles and the proper ordinances, by clicking here.
To report the disturbance of a sea turtle nest, or report the sightings of turtles or hatchlings lost, stranded or wandering in the street, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement at 1-888-404-3922, or *FWC from a cell phone.