With many Florida beaches currently closed to the public, would-be beachgoers have had to get creative to enjoy their beloved waters. Live cams of sea life and videos of sunrises have been the perfect remedy. As tourists and locals admire the shores from afar, the native marine life, particularly sea turtles and manatees in Florida, have seen some direct benefits from the lack of human visitors.
Wildlife researchers and stewards have pointed out that fewer humans on the beach mean less trash, fewer boats, and less disturbance to the natural order of things — offering some silver linings despite the absence of sinking your toes into sandy shores.
Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the Sea Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida, told The Weather Channel in an interview that many hazards sea turtles face during nesting season are caused by humans. Things like litter, chairs, and even holes dug in the sand can become obstacles for hatchlings and nesting females.
Additionally, Dr. Brian Lapointe, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University, was interviewed by WPTV News and reported that our beloved manatees could also directly benefit from fewer boats in the ocean.
This leaves fewer chances for them to get accidentally run over, which actually happens quite a bit in the Sunshine State. Florida saw record numbers of manatee fatalities from boater hits just a year ago in 2019.
Dr. Lapointe also mentioned that in his home in Monroe County in Key West, they're already seeing some positive indirect effects of the lack of people on the shorelines, including less toxic runoff into the oceans.
While the news may have been a bummer for spring breakers, Spring Break generally falls on a time when early nesting season has already begun for leatherback sea turtles which may affect their ability to nest easily.
Efforts from organizations across the state help these marine creatures even when people are taking to the beach though.
The Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach monitors 9.5 miles of shoreline from March to October, as it's one of the most frequented places for nesting sea turtles in the world!
While you patiently wait to take to the surf once more, the closed beaches allow our marine animals to experience their natural habitat as it once was long ago — with little to no human interference.
*Photos used for illustrative purposes only.