Beach chairs are fun to sit in on a hot day, but what happens after beach-goers leave? According to LBK News, sea turtles in Longboat are often struggling and getting caught in leftover beach chairs.
Turtle Watch volunteers, who help to protect nesting turtles and their eggs from beach-goers, have seen flipper marks in the sand that indicate that turtles have gotten stuck in beach chairs. Municipalities in the surrounding area, including Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, and the City of Anna Maria already have ordinances in place that require beach furniture to be removed in the evening so that sea turtle movement is not impeded.
Juan Florensa, the town’s Public Works Director, is saying that the town is doing all it is legally required to do under Florida Law. The State of Florida does not regulate beach furniture — it only regulates beach lighting at night which can affect turtle egg laying patterns.
Sam DiGiammarino is a new resident to the area, and, after walking along the beaches early in the morning, was alarmed enough by what he saw that he wrote to the town commission. “I am not an expert, but I would think that a giant turtle that got tangled up in a beach lounger and drug it back into the water could easily drown. If I am not mistaken, the sea turtles are on the threatened species list. Shouldn’t the city be doing more?” He asked, and mentioned that he frequently notices giant turtle tracks.
In 2011, a beach chair measure was brought to Longboat commissioners who decided that the proposed rule was “vague, and perhaps unnecessary,” and declined to implement it. The rule hadn’t required that chairs be removed — just that they be relocated to a place where they would be less likely to impact turtle movement. Turtles, who lay their eggs on beaches, can become ensnared or disoriented by chairs.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says that, “Furniture that is left on the beach at night can prevent nesting turtles from reaching the upper beach,” and they advise that beach furniture be placed behind the primary dune.
“We’ve had clients, such architects and designers, use their adjustable drafting chairs in outdoor settings – including the beach,” says Alec Lopez, CFO of SitBetter.com. “And unlike beach chair loungers, drafting chairs don’t interfere with the sea turtle’s habitat. We like to think our chairs don’t hurt turtles, they help people.”