How You Can Help

One of our goals is to recognize and report infractions that interfere with turtle nesting. Construction debris left on the beach and walkovers that don’t comply with guidelines are a few examples. Learn what is and isn’t permitted on beaches, and send us an email if you see infractions. Please include photos -  close up, and far enough back to show identifying features of the location. Include an address of the infraction.

 

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is not sufficiently protecting sea turtle nesting habitat.  When DEP issues permits, the agency does not always force compliance to ensure that the terms of the permit are adhered to.   One example is a seawall that was built on Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, 28 feet seaward of where it was permitted to be built. This nest of endangered Green sea turtles was likely washed out due to its proximity to the sea wall which dramatically increases erosion. Only 7 out of 143 nests on that stretch of beach that season were Green turtle nests. 

 

Always bring a bag on a beach walk so you can pick up litter that could end up in the ocean and imperil turtles. Follow us on Facebook for organized beach clean-up events and to learn more about how you can help.

 

FWC provides this list to help you protect sea turtles.

  • Never release balloons. Sea turtles can mistake balloons for jelly fish and try to eat them. Turtles can also become entangled in the string, as can birds and other wildlife.
     

  • Do not dig holes in the beach, and if you come across a hole, fill it in or ask the hole-digger to be sure to fill it in later. Politely explain that a nesting sea turtle can fall into a hole, become trapped and perish. Holes are also dangerous to humans!
     

  • Do not leave fishing line behind. This entangles many types of wildlife including sea turtles.
     

  • Do not feed sea turtles or other wildlife. This encourages them to approach people in high traffic areas.
     

  • Reduce the amount of plastic garbage you produce.
     

  • Turn off the lights! Keep beachfront lights off throughout the night from May to October as they can confuse sea turtles during the mating season. Suggested alternatives to decrease artificial lighting include use of motion sensors for safety, dark window tinting and curtains to cover inside light, and yellow incandescent light bulbs ("bug lights"). Studies have also shown that light from low pressure sodium vapor sources don't attract turtles as much as high pressure sodium lights Avoid fluorescent, mercury vapor, metal halide, and white incandescent lighting.
     

  • Oppose coastal armoring. The fewer obstacles sea turtles have to overcome, the better their chances of successful nesting.
     

  • Reduce the amount of fertilizers you use. Ordinary lawn and garden fertilizers wash into coastal waters killing plants and animals. Look for biodegradable alternatives, and correctly dispose of used toxic chemicals.
     

  • Write a letter to the editor. Use your local newspaper to inform people about the plight of sea turtles and what they can do to help.
     

  • Adopt a Turtle. Join and support the Sea Turtle Survival League by calling 1-800-678-7853 or writing to 4424 N.W. 13th St. Suite A-1, Gainesville, FL 32609.
     

  • Buy a License Plate. The next time you renew your automobile registration at your local tax collector's office, request a specialty sea turtle plate. The extra dollars go toward protection, research, and recovery programs at the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  (Our local Sea Turtle Conservancy receives significant funding from the license plate program, which directly  helps increase the survival of sea turtles.)

 

What should I do if I find hatchlings wandering in a road, parking lot, or in directions other than toward the water?
Call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement at 1-888-404-FWCC or *FWC from your cell phone.

What should I do if I find sea turtle hatchlings on the beach?

  • Watch from a distance.

  • Allow them to crawl to the water on their own.

  • Leave them in their nest.

  • Keep all lights off.

What should I do if I see a sea turtle nesting?

  • Stay behind her at a distance and remain quiet.

  • Don't use any lights, including flashlights, flash photography, and video equipment.

  • Don't put your hands on or near the turtle. Any distractions may frighten and disorient her, causing her to return to the ocean before completely covering and camouflaging her nest.

When DEP issues permits for coastal construction, the agency does not always force compliance to ensure that the terms of the permit are adhered to. One example is a seawall that was built on Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, 28 feet seaward of where it was permitted to be built. This nest of endangered Green sea turtles was likely washed out due to its proximity to the sea wall which dramatically increases erosion.