Santa Clara Beach, Fla. (WMBB) – Hurricane Ida caused obvious issues for people across the United States this week, but some not so obvious life was effected too.
Sea turtle nesting season started in March and runs through October, meaning it overlaps hurricane season running from June through November.
While even a regular tropical season here in Florida can problems for the 70% of turtles who nest here, an overactive season could pose additional threats.
Hurricane Ida is the most recent tropical system to impact Panhandle beaches, causing several days of high surf.
This resulted in 22 out of the 23 sea turtle nests in South Walton’s have taken on water. Too much water will kill off hatchlings.
Tropical storms Claudette and Fred also caused partial or total wash-outs to about 10 nests earlier this season.
Ida is the third event to cause problems for nesting season, but may not be the last as the peak of hurricane season is still about a week away.
Authorities believe that sea turtles face enough of a challenge dealing with man-made habitat loss, so additional habitat loss due to climate change would be a real obstacle.
“I feel personally it seems like the surges are much higher than they used to be, so yeah it’s disturbing because of the loss of habitat. They are already challenged because were losing habitat because of over-development and now were losing habitat because of whatever is going on in nature, so it’s alarming,” said Barb Van Stavern of the South Walton Turtle Watch.
She added that in order to combat natural losses to the sea turtle community here in the Panhandle, it’s important that beach visitors remember to keep beaches “clean, dark, and flat.”
Clean, meaning no traces are left behind after a visit. Dark, meaning that if you are out on the beach at night make sure to use red flashlights. Flat, meaning that when you leave the beach, cover any holes from an umbrella or beach chairs that baby hatchling could fall into.