Sea turtle swimming around

When the weather starts to get warmer here in Florida, tourists are not the only ones you will find flocking to the beautiful shores of the Emerald Coast. The Florida shores are also home to wild Sea Turtles in the Spring and Early Fall.

 

Did you know that 4 of the 7 total species of sea turtles can be found swimming along the Florida Gulf Coast? It’s true! The Loggerheads, Green, Leatherback, and the Kemp’s Ridley choose to nest along our beautiful shores between April and November.

 

Sea turtles can only stay out of the water for a short period of time, but females do so to lay their eggs on the beaches close to where they were born. This is why you will find turtle nests all along the shores of the Emerald Coast, from Pensacola, through Destin and Miramar Beach, all the way to Panama City Beach.

 

While seeing these beautiful sea creatures is a fascinating sight to see, it is important to remember that all species of sea turtles are either endangered or threatened. So we must do what we can to help these endangered animals. 

 

Loggerhead Turtle Hatchlings

Helpful Tips to Protect the Sea Turtles

Do Not Touch The Turtles

Don’t touch or harass nesting sea turtles or baby hatchlings. This goes for when they are in the nest and heading back out to shore.

Important Reminder: It is a crime to disturb or harass sea turtles. So please follow the recommended guidelines.

 

Light Can Disorient Sea Turtles

The newly hatched sea turtles use the light of the moon to guide them back out to the water. Unfortunately, bright lights on the beach from beachgoers, beach homes, and condos distract them, putting them in harm’s way. While walking the beaches at night, it is best to use red flashlights as sea turtles are less likely to be attracted or disoriented by red lighting. Don’t shine bright lights or use the flash.

 

Obstacles on the Beach for Sea Turtles

If you see sandcastles or any other obstacles that can get in the way of the sea turtles heading to the shore to nest, remember to knock them down. Holes in the sand can trap the female sea turtles looking for a space to nest. So remember to fill in any holes you see, even if you aren’t the one who made them. We know it may be convenient to leave things on the beach overnight, like your beach chairs or even your kid’s beach toys. But these are also obstacles that can create issues for the sea turtles. Remember to remove beach chairs, toys, tents, and any other furniture from the beach every night, and you can bring them back out in the morning.

 

We know seeing sea turtles offers many visitors a truly memorable experience, but please be mindful of any new nests and respect the boundary markers for these endangered, amazing creatures. Due to human interference, not all sea turtles make it through the mating season alive. 

 

If you see sea turtles or hatchlings distressed, sick, injured, or even deceased – please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission’s 24-hour hotline at 888-404-3922.

 

Want more information about Sea Turtles on the Florida Coast? You can check out the Sea Turtle Conservancy here.