Turtle nesting season officially starts May 1, which means hundreds of sea turtles will be emerging from the surf to lay eggs on the beach in the next few months.
Sea Turtle Nesting Season Begins May 1 and Ends October 31
The season unofficially started April 10, when the first leatherback nest was discovered in Daytona Beach. Since then, three more nests and one false crawl have been counted between Ormond Beach and New Smyrna Beach.
After incubating in the sand for about two months, tiny hatchlings will break free and make an often treacherous crawl to the ocean, dodging predators, holes, trash and beach furniture. Tragically, some will also be led into harm’s way by beachfront lighting.
Rules During Sea Turtle Nesting Season in Florida
Residents and visitors can help save sea turtle lives by following these tips on the beach:
- Do not touch or disturb sea turtles or their nests. It’s important that hatchlings make their own way to the ocean.
- Do not disturb the dune system or plants. Use designated beach access points and do not walk on the dunes.
- When driving at the beach, use the designated traffic lanes and parking areas. Beach driving access hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the nesting season, tide permitting.
- Do not use flash photography at night.
- Do not use cellphones to light your way at night.
- Use only red LED flashlights; they are less visible to turtles.
- After a day at the beach, flatten sandcastles, fill in holes, and take your chairs and equipment with you. This is an easy way to reduce obstacles faced by sea turtles.
- Dispose of trash and recyclables in proper receptacles. Trash left on the beach can attract predators.
- Do not use fireworks. They are not only prohibited on the beach at all times, but they can be disruptive to turtles.
- If you see a nesting adult sea turtle or hatchlings making their way to the ocean, admire them from a safe distance. Stand far away, remain calm and quietly enjoy this special experience. If a turtle appears to be in immediate danger, notify a lifeguard or Beach Safety officer or call MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife at (888) 404-3922.
Nesting season runs through October 31. During a typical year, 400 to 500 nests are laid in Volusia County. Last year’s season set a new record with 984 nests counted.
For more information about Volusia County’s sea turtle program, call (386) 238-4668 or visit www.volusiaseaturtles.org. For questions about sea turtle-friendly lighting, call (386) 238-4773.
For more links to visit on sea turtle information, see below:
Find links, alliances and groups that promote wildlife, research and habitat protection and which are related to the beach and sea environment.
All of the world’s sea turtles are designated as either endangered or threatened and are protected by state, federal and international laws. For years the county has actively protected coastal wildlife by implementing our Sea Turtle Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).
The plants and animals living in this harsh environment have adapted to sandy soil, continuous salt spray, exposure to extreme weather events, and the constant ambush of ocean waves, which can all result in changes to the beach environment. Please visit this page to learn how you can help take care of our coastal environment and keep it healthy!
Sea turtles spend most of their life in the ocean. Female sea turtles will emerge from the water and crawl up onto sandy beaches to lay eggs in May through October each year. Males will never leave the water unless they wash onto the beach sick or injured. Visit this page to find out more about the life cycle of the different sea turtles species in Volusia County.
To help protect turtles from bright lights, Volusia County adopted a Lighting Ordinance and is actively working with oceanfront property owners to reduce artificial lighting problems along our beaches. Visit this page for more links to learn about the problem and get resources for how to come into compliance.
Visit our journal page to read and get up to date on all the hottest topics on nesting numbers, sea turtle hatchling amounts and program updates.
These educational materials provide residents and visitors with information on coastal wildlife and the County’s Lighting Ordinance. Order FREE brochures, newsletters, posters, table top tents and more.
Follow these tips to help nesting sea turtles, other animals, and people safely use the beach.
Click here to see the number and species of turtles nesting on Volusia’s beaches each season and historically.
Are you an avid beach walker who is interested in volunteering your time to look for more than just seashells along the beach? If you are, join the Washback Watcher program! This team of permitted volunteers is trained to find and rescue young sea turtles that wash ashore due to heavy winds and surf each August through November.