March 1 is the official start of the sea turtle nesting season.
MARCH – JULY: Leatherback sea turtles begin to come ashore from March through July to lay their eggs. Florida is the only state in the continental U.S. where leatherback sea turtles regularly nest. With the exception of a few nests on the west coast, leatherbacks nest almost exclusively on the east coast of Florida. In fact, about 50 percent of leatherback nesting occurs in Palm Beach County.
People can help sea turtles that nest on Florida’s beaches at night by leaving the beach as natural as possible. To do this, beachgoers should remove beach furniture and other obstacles before sunset each day.
“Anyone spending time on Florida’s beaches can do something to help save Florida’s threatened and endangered sea turtles. People’s actions on the beach can have a positive impact on whether our loggerhead, leatherback and green sea turtles nest successfully,” said Dr. Robbin Trindell, who leads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) sea turtle management program.
|Trenches and holes left by a sand artist celebrating Earth Day created a hazard for endangered nesting sea turtles in Cocoa Beach, Florida.|
“Whether you are a resident or a visitor, remember to take beach furniture, boats and canopies off Florida’s sandy beaches at night so these items won’t block sea turtles attempting to nest,” Trindell said. “When departing at the end of the day, beach visitors should fill any holes dug in the sand so nesting and hatchling turtles don’t become trapped. Please be careful not to disturb nesting sea turtles by getting too close, shining lights on them or taking flash photos.”
Exactly when sea turtle nesting season starts depends on where you are in Florida. While it begins in March on the Atlantic coast, it starts later in the spring in late April or May along the Gulf coast. Yet wherever you are in the Sunshine State, what you do on the beach can make a significant difference on whether sea turtles nest successfully.
Florida hosts nearly 90 percent of loggerhead nests within this species’ northern Atlantic Ocean population, the state plays an important role in its conservation.