Five species of sea turtles are found swimming in
Florida's waters and nesting on Florida's beaches. All sea turtles
found in Florida are either considered a threatened or an
endangered species and are protected under state and federal
- Kemp's ridley
- Hawks bill
More information about sea
Sea turtles nest on all of Florida's
Summer is a busy time for Florida beaches with both
people and sea turtles sharing the sand. Though turtle nesting and
hatching usually happens in the middle of the night, it is very
possible for humans to cross paths with nesting females or
hatchlings on their way to the sea.
If you come across a sea turtle that is stranded or dead; a
hatchling that is wandering in a road, parking lot; or directions
other than the water; or if you see someone disturbing a nest or
turtle, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
(FWC) Resource Alert number at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC from
your cell phone.
turtle watches are conducted by approved permit holders.
Vehicles on the Beach
Why you should keep lights out along the
For millions of years female sea turtles have been
coming ashore to lay their eggs on beaches. In the past the
hatchling turtles were guided to the ocean by an instinct to travel
away from the dark silhouettes of the dune vegetation and toward
the brightest horizon which was the light from the sky reflecting
off the ocean. In present times however, many coastal areas are
highly populated. There are many artificial lights near the beach
that can deter females from nesting and disorient hatchling sea
turtles. The hatchlings travel inland, toward the artificial
lights, where they often die from dehydration, are preyed upon by
fire ants and ghost crabs, or sometimes crawl onto the road where
they are run over by cars. Light can cause a major disruption in
the natural behavior of the turtles. Do not use any flashlights,
flash photography, or video equipment if you see a sea turtle at
night. This can cause a female to false crawl or lead a hatchling
away from the water.
about wildlife-friendly lighting
How can you help nesting sea turtles?
If you see a sea turtle, it is important to stay
out of the sea turtle's way. Do not put your hands on or near the
turtle. Any distractions may frighten or disorient the turtle,
causing a female to return to the ocean before finishing her
If you own beach front property, please remove
obstacles on the beach which may impede the slow travel of these
huge animals as they make their way up to the dune line to nest.
Remove beach chairs, tables, water-sport items and any other
obstacles. After nesting, be considerate of the hatchlings and make
sure that they have a path to the water when it is time for them to
A lot of people like to dig holes in the sand.
These are fine during the day but may pose additional hazards at
night. Please refill these holes so that sea turtles and hatchlings
do not get caught on their way to nest or to the water.
Keep waterways clean by properly throwing away any
trash, plastic or beach gear that you no longer want. Debris that
blows into or is drawn into the water by the tides causes potential
hazards for marine life. Some of the plastics may be mistaken for
jelly fish, which some sea turtles eat. Other items may entangle
animals if they swim through any holes in the debris or get items
wrapped around flippers, tails or wings. Practice conservation
efforts by cleaning up the beach or a waterway any time you visit -
all wildlife will benefit from this service.
What do you do if you see hatchlings on the
beach or disoriented hatchlings heading away from the beach?
Hatchlings must overcome many obstacles in their
natural habitat to successfully reach adulthood. After hatching,
they must dig out of their nest, a process that may take a few
days. Once out, predators feed on them, and any misdirection may
leave them lost and, soon, dehydrated by the morning sun. Enjoy the
experience from a distance. Do not make it any more difficult for
sea turtles to survive. Please do not "help" them to the water -
they need to make the trek on their own.
If you come across a hatchling that is wandering in a road,
parking lot; or in a direction other than the water call the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Resource
Alert numbers at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC from your cell
Learn more about sea turtles or download this Share the Beach
see Sea Turtles