Dozens of people walking along beaches in Jacksonville, Florida, have come across baby sea turtles.
Researchers said strong strong winds and tides in the ocean have brought close to 60 sea turtles back to shore between Amelia Island and St. Johns County.
“We get calls from these people who say, ‘What should I do? What should I do?’” Eleanor Maxwell said.
Maxwell, a Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol member, brought two turtles to the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience on Friday.
Known as washbacks, the babies are washing ashore on Sargasso seaweed pushed inland by strong storms, including hurricanes Florence and Michael.
When sea turtles hatch, they rely on energy stores from a yolk sack to make the multimile swim to floating masses of seaweed offshore.
If storms or currents push them to shore, the turtles are too weak to swim back out into ocean.
“They’re going to be picked up by a pelican or they’re going to get into the water and they’re just going to die. They don’t have a chance once they get to this beach,” Maxwell said.
If the babies are rescued, they’re brought to a sea turtle hospital, such as the Whitney Lab at the University of Florida in St. Augustine.
They’re cared for until they’re strong enough to be brought back out to the ocean by boat.
Researchers are asking people to keep an eye out for the post-hatchlings after the recent storms.
If you find a baby sea turtle, call your sea turtle patrol group or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The FWC has a 24-hour sea turtle hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).
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