JUNO BEACH, Fla. - Final preparations are complete for the start of what could be a record-setting sea turtle nesting season in south Florida. Those preparations come with new warnings for humans.
In the dark and out of sight is where south Florida's sea turtle population literally comes to life.
"Anxious, we're excited," said Adrienne McCracken, Research Field Manager at Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach. "We're just ready to go."
The hard work - and hopefully the results - ramp up starting March 1, the start of what should be a strong - and possibly record-breaking - sea turtle nesting season on our coastline.
"We're hoping that our conservation efforts that started in the 1970's are maybe starting to have an impact on today," said McCracken.
A female turtle laying her eggs may seem like the perfect photo opportunity, but it actually harms these creatures. Bright camera flashes - and all bright white lights - can confuse the turtles on their way to and from the water. There is new lighting technology that is more turtle-friendly such as LED lights or even amber colored lights that do not have the same potentially dangerous impact.
"It's a precious moment and they just want to capture it," said McCracken.
Experts say visitors should probably leave the camera at home because any photograph would not do this moment justice anyway.
"Experience it with your own eyes," said Sarah Hirsch, Research Data Manager at the Marinelife Center. "Burn it into your memory and take that away with you."
Those caught with bright lights on the beach can actually be cited and fined for harassment of an endangered species. 2013 was a record year for the number of green sea turtle nests. Experts are already excited for what this year could bring.