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 laws.

  • Loggerhead
  • Green
  • Leatherback
  • Kemp's ridley
  • Hawks bill

More information about sea turtles.

Sea turtles nest on all of Florida's beaches

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.

Sea turtle watches are conducted by approved permit holders.

Vehicles on the Beach

Why you should keep lights out along the beach

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.

Learn 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 nest.

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 hatch.

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 phone.

Learn more about sea turtles or download this Share the Beach brochure. PDF

Map to see Sea Turtles

FWC Facts:
Our bass fisheries provide significant value to our state. Ensuring healthy lakes and rivers benefits many species of fish and wildlife as well as trophy fisheries.

Learn More at AskFWC