Welcome to Florida where the sun is shining, the ocean breeze is blowing and the sea turtles are hatching! Sea turtle season in Central Florida takes place May through October as mother sea turtles return to their home beaches at night and lay their eggs.
Nearly 90% of sea turtle nesting in the United States takes place in Florida! When hundreds of hatchlings begin emerging from their nests to crawl to the ocean, there are several incidents that can impede their journey. That’s why we’ve compiled four things you should know about sea turtle nesting season and how you can help the hatchlings reach the sea. Take a look!
1) Do Not Disturb
Even though you may be interested in viewing a sea turtle nest or getting a glimpse of a baby breaking its shell, it’s important that you refrain. If you come across a nest, it should be marked and may have a protective screening. These nests are being studied and protected. If you see a nest refrain from walking or cycling near it. Also avoid walking on beach dunes as this is where many of the nests are located. It’s crucial that you don’t touch, play near or step on these areas so that the babies can continue to grow in peace.
If you come across a baby sea turtle that is crawling to or from the ocean or a mother turtle laying her eggs, do not approach or touch them. You can watch quietly from a distance of at least 30 feet.
2) Pay Attention to Lighting
Hatchlings, scientists believe, have an instinct that leads them in the direction of the moonlight reflecting off the ocean, however artificial lighting can cause confusion. Lighting on the beach shore, whether from beachfront homes, businesses, cars, or people can confuse hatchlings causing them to become disoriented and wander inland rather than towards the ocean. If the baby sea turtle is unable to reach the sea in time, they can become a victim to dehydration or predation.
What’s the solution? Reducing the amount of artificial light that is visible on the beach is the best way you can help to reduce light pollution affecting sea turtles. There are ordinances in Volusia County during the months of sea turtle season. This requires coastal communities to refrain from using artificial lighting in an effort to not confuse the hatchlings or a nesting mother.
3) Keep Beaches Clean
Leave the beach exactly how you found it! This is the most simple, but most important thing to know during sea turtle season. Mother turtles can get trapped or injured in an abandoned lawn chair. They can also fall into a hole dug in the sand. Before you leave, fill in all holes around you and take every piece of beach equipment that you brought with you.
Littering is another large problem that sea turtles face. A mother turtle may mistake your plastic bag for food and this will make her very sick. Look around the beach before you leave (and while you’re there) and pick up any trash you see, even if it’s not yours. There are trash and recycle bins located in all areas of the main beaches. The sea turtle population will thank you!
4) Report Sightings
If you come across a mother or baby sea turtle or an unmarked nest on the beach, report them to any Volusia County Beach Service employee. If you believe a turtle is in danger or is injured, please do not place it back in the water. Instead, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922 for assistance.
If you’re in town as a local or a visitor, you won’t want to miss all the wildlife that awaits you in the Daytona Beach area. The Manatee offers wildlife boat tours with experienced captains and plenty of gorgeous sights. While on board, you’ll have the chance to see manatee, dolphin, sea birds, turtles and more. Contact us today to book a Ponce Inlet boat tour and gain a wildlife experience you’ll never forget!