Nesting season is from May 1st through October 31st of each year.
The most important thing for beachgoers to understand is not to interfere with sea turtles or their nests (which are marked with a small sign and plastic tape). It is actually illegal to do so because both are protected under state law. Please be careful not to enter the marked off nest area and if you encounter a sea turtle give them plenty of space and do not touch them.
Do not shine lights at or take flash photos of the sea turtles; it interferes with their sense of direction and they will struggle to return to the sea.
Clean, Dark, Flat!
Clean - Leave nothing but footprints. Put trash or recyclables into the proper receptacle, properly dispose of food waste, and take care not to leave toys or clothes or let them escape into the water.
Dark - Mother sea turtles nest on dark beaches because it gives their hatchlings the greatest chance of survival. When the babies hatch, they follow the reflection of the night sky on the water so artificial lighting can greatly disorient them.
Flat - Mounds of sand and holes can pose a major obstruction to sea turtles. A baby sea turtle can fall into even the smallest hole, and if they are stuck there after sunrise they are likely to die. It is not common knowledge, but sea turtles can’t walk in reverse. If a mother gets stuck, she may get exhausted and give up or lay her eggs too close to the water’s edge. Encourage kids to fill holes and knock down sand castles when it’s time to head home. (Take a video and hashtag it #cleandarkflat to encourage others to do the same!)
Call the FWC Wildlife Alert number 1-888-404-FWCC to report:
- Stranded hatchlings
- Harassment of sea turtles
- Disturbance of nests
- Dead or injured sea turtles or hatchlings
- Entangled sea turtles
- Sea turtles caught with fishing gear
Sea Turtle Lighting Standards
Lighting is one of the primary concerns for both nesting turtles and hatchlings. Excess lighting from buildings and streets draw hatchlings toward land and deter females from nesting. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) keeps an updated list of best management practices for marine turtle lighting
Keep it Low, Keep it Shielded, Keep it Long
Low - Fixtures must be mounted as low as possible and produce the lowest wattage/lumens necessary for the need purpose.
Shielded - Fixtures must be completely downward-directed and the bulb, lamp, or glowing lens must be shielded from the beach.
Long - Lamp/Bulb must produce long wavelength light (560 nm or greater, which is amber, orange, or red)