Sea Turtle Nesting Season on Florida's Gulf Coast
It's one of the most wonderful times of the year here in Florida! Sea turtle nesting season is just about to begin on the Gulf Coast of Florida, running from May 1 through October 31. There's a lot to love about these amazing, wonderful and incredibly adorable sea creatures. There's also a lot you can do to help protect them during this vulnerable time in their life cycle.
Generally we find the first nest of the season in early to mid May and the females continue nesting until the middle of August. Primarily, we encounter loggerheads nesting on our beaches but on rare occasions have encountered Kempís ridleys or green sea turtles.
Here are some things you should do to be mindful during sea turtle nesting season as you share the beaches with these beloved air-breathing reptiles of the sea.
What You Can Do To Help During Sea Turtle Nesting Season1. Dim or turn off lights on or near the beach at night. Emerging sea turtle hatchlings are instinctively drawn to natural light, so artificial light can confuse them and lead them astray in their journey to the water.
2. Avoid going to the beach at night. If you must be on the beach at night, limit your walking and do not use flashlights or flash photography. The light may cause the female to abort the nesting process, or other sea turtles nearby may be discouraged from nesting if there are lights on the beach. Many coastal counties and cities have lighting ordinances that help reduce beachfront lighting.
3. Cover up any holes you encounter or create in the sand on the beach. These can be obstacles for sea turtles. They have enough adversity, so let's minimize their chances of getting stuck or injured by falling into a hole they can't get out of.
4. Pick up any trash or litter on the beach. Trash can be a deadly obstacle for sea turtles as well. Do your part by helping keep the beaches clean, clear and free of unwanted trash and debris.
5. If you stumble upon a sea turtle nest, do not disturb it. Yes, they are incredibly cool! But it is best to leave them be. It's actually against the law to touch or disturb a nesting sea turtle, its eggs or the nest. Sea turtles are protected by both the Federal Endangered Species Act and the Florida Marine Protection Act. If you do find an unmarked nest, contact the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to let them know of the location so they can mark and monitor its progress. They patrol the all of the Pinellas County beaches this time of year, seven days a week.
6. When crossing a dune, please use designated cross overs and walk ways. Do not climb over the dunes or disturb the dune vegetation.
7. If you see an injured or dead sea turtle, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC from your cell phone. Please be prepared to answer the following questions: What is the exact location of the animal? Is the turtle alive or dead? What is the approximate size of the turtle? Is the turtle marked with spray paint? (This indicates that the turtle has been documented.) What is the location of the closest access point to the turtle?
More About Florida Gulf Coast Sea Turtles
We have a lot of local resources to help you see and learn more about the sea turtles that grace our Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Check them out!
- Visit the Florida Aquarium in Tampa
- Visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
- Visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
Read Plumlee Realty's previous sea turtle posts:
Have you stumbled upon a sea turtle nest while visiting or vacationing on the Gulf Coast of Florida?