Three newly hatched sea turtles were rescued from a Deerfield Beach storm drain on Saturday and released to the ocean.
The baby turtles, discovered in a grated drain near Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Station 75 just across the street from the beach, may have been disoriented by lights coming from the city when they were born and headed the wrong way.
Luckily for them, a “good Samaritan” noticed them around 7 p.m. Saturday and alerted a nearby group of firefighters who were outside training a recruit. The team scooped them up in a white bucket and walked to the beach, where they watched the hatchlings making their way to freedom.
“In the face of certain death, firefighters promptly rescued the hatchlings and returned them to the natural habitat to which they belong — the ocean,” said BSFR Battalion Chief and Public Information Officer Michael B. Kane in a statement. “We wish the three little hatchlings the best of luck and a safe, long and healthy life.”
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Sea turtle nesting season in Florida generally runs from May to October, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It typically takes about two months for them to hatch, at which point they instinctively waddle in the direction of the brightest light source.
When city lights along the beach outshine the light of the open horizon, the hatchlings may wind up going the wrong way.
Between 40,000 and 84,000 sea turtle nests are made along Florida’s coast every year, according to the FWC. All five Florida species of sea turtle — Hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Green — are endangered or threatened.
Just one of about 1,000 sea turtles survives long enough to become an adult, according to the FWC. If hatchlings don’t make it to the ocean quickly enough, they can die of dehydration.