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: May 1 – October 31
Although leatherback and loggerhead sea turtle nesting has already begun on other beaches in southern and central Florida, Volusia County managed beaches have yet to receive their first nest. With water temperatures warming up quickly, nesting females should arrive soon.
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. During the nesting season, residents are required to shield, redirect or turn off lights so they don’t shine on the beach.
How to Protect Sea Turtles and their Nests
Residents and visitors can also 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 or cellphones to light your way at night. Use only red LED flashlights; they are less visible to turtle eyes.
- Flatten sandcastles, fill in holes, and take your chairs, equipment and trash with you. This is an easy way to reduce obstacles faced by sea turtles.
- Do not use fireworks.
- If you see a nesting adult sea turtle or hatchlings making their way to the ocean, admire them from a safe distance.
Nesting season runs through Oct. 31.
During a typical year, 400 to 500 nests are laid in Volusia County. Last year’s season was the third highest nesting season on record, with 902 nests counted.