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Florida Department of Environmental Protection
(850) 245-2118
www.dep.state.fl.us

Five Ways to Help Protect Sea Turtles and Hatchlings

Kathalyn Gaither

With sea turtle nesting season upon us, it’s important to provide a safe place so these magnificent creatures can return each year to lay eggs – very likely on the same beach where it was hatched.

Sea turtles encounter many natural challenges while in the water, i.e., ocean currents and storms, litter such as balloons and plastics, surf temperature, etc. But when they make their way on shore, we can all help to minimize potential human-related mishaps.

For instance, lounge chairs left on the beach can interrupt the pathway as the turtle tries to find an appropriate nesting location. A security light on a beachfront hotel or house can replicate moonlight, distracting the turtle from its appropriate route to and from the ocean. An unleashed dog can scare or harm the turtle resulting in injury, death or causing it to simply return to the sea without completing the nesting cycle.

Taking a few precautions can help to ensure that this year’s hatchlings have the best chances of returning to the sea.

Things you can do to help:

  • Never disturb a nesting female, nests or emerging hatchlings.
  • Be sure to shield indoor lights and turn off outdoor lights after dark.
  • Fires and fireworks can also disorient sea turtles. Avoid these activities on beaches during nesting season.
  • Recreational equipment left on beaches overnight can block or ensnare nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings. Make sure to remove equipment and stack beach furniture.
  • Stay off the dunes where sea turtles nest.

Report sea turtle sightings and hazards to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC.