Sea Turtle Hatchlings marching to the big blue sea

Sea Turtle Hatchlings Make a Break for the OceanIn South Florida, sea turtle nesting season begins March 1 and ends October 31. We generally see three species of sea turtles nesting on South Florida beaches: green, leatherback,and loggerhead. Green and leatherback sea turtles are endangered while loggerheads are listed as threatened. It is therefore very important that visitors and residents alike are aware of conservation practices to ensure the safety of all turtles.

Most of our beaches are monitored for sea turtle nesting by various organizations throughout the counties.  Sometimes turtle nests are marked with a stake and a turtle nest sign, sometimes not.  Never disturb a sea turtle nest.  The eggs are fragile and human exposure or movement of  the eggs will kill the developing embryos.  Further, sea turtles and their nests are protected by federal law.  Voluntarily disturbing a nest or disturbing or hurting a sea turtle comes with a hefty fine and possible incarceration. If you happen to be on the beach and come across a nesting sea turtle, as tempting as it might be to watch the action, the correct course of action is to quietly leave.  Do not make any loud noises or shine a light on the turtle.  You will either scare or disorient the turtle which may cause it to dump its clutch of eggs in the ocean thereby killing all the eggs. Also, never create a fire on the beach during nesting season.  Hatchling sea turtles find their way to the ocean by following the brightest horizon.  The instinct to follow the brightest light is so great that hatchlings will actually walk into a fire and destroy themselves. Lastly, remove decorative light around your home or business if your it faces the beach, as anywhere outside your door could be a potential nesting site.  Light pollution is a major cause of disorientation and stranding for hatchlings.  If you find a stranded hatchling or injured adult sea turtle, please contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission immediately at 1-888-404-3922. ***This information was provided by Mike Zewe of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, a coastal and marine preserve dedicated to preserving South Florida Wildlife. For more information on sea turtle conservation, please visit Gumbo Limbo or our website.