Our Florida beaches are home to more than just the permanent residents who call it home. Much like our sea turtles, people are constantly coming and going from all over the world! This can generate a lot of questions as people see new things and explore our beaches for the first time. This TURTLE FAQ project was created and designed by a high school student with an interest in marine life and a passion for spreading the word about sea turtle conservation. Check out the commonly asked questions below to learn more about sea turtles and ways that you can help!
What does this sign mean?
You may encounter many of these stakes on the beaches during sea turtle nesting season. These bright yellow signs and orange stakes mark the location of a sea turtle nest! It is very important that you do not remove, replace, or relocate the stakes or dig within the boundary of or around the nest. This ensures the safety of the turtle eggs! Our trained staff is authorized under the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to identify sea turtle crawls, mark off nests, and conduct excavations once the nest hatches. The protection of these turtle nests and the data collected are very important, so make sure to tell others about the importance of these nest signs and how they can help to ensure the sea turtle eggs' safety!
What should I do if I encounter a nesting sea turtle?
Female sea turtles will emerge out of the ocean to lay their eggs at night during sea turtle nesting season. If you happen to encounter an adult sea turtle, it is very important to keep a distance to not interfere with the nesting process. Please remember to turn off all lights (cell phones, flashlights, etc.) and to minimize noise as to not scare the sea turtle and cause her not to lay her eggs. DO NOT TOUCH THE TURTLE OR HER EGGS. It is illegal in Florida to touch or harass a sea turtle, their nest, and their eggs. If you are concerned about an adult turtle, or see a dead or injured turtle, please call our conservation program to report the problem (612-600-8548) or the FWC Wildlife Hotline (1-888-404-3922).
What should I do if I encounter a sea turtle hatchling?
Hatchlings have a long journey ahead of them once they emerge out of the nest and head towards the ocean. If it seems like a hatchling is struggling, can't get past the seaweed, or are heading in the wrong direction DO NOT TOUCH THEM. It is illegal in Florida to touch or harass a sea turtle, including the hatchlings and the nests. By moving or "rescuing" a hatchling, you may actually be doing more harm than good. These hatchlings will figure it out on their own, or may need to be brought into a rehab facility. Keep your distance and a clear path to the ocean so you do not accidentally step on a hatchling. Do not use lights as it can be disorienting. If you are concerned about a hatchling, please call our conservation program to report the problem (612-600-8548) or the FWC Wildlife Hotline (1-888-404-3922).
What is a false crawl?
When a female sea turtle comes out of the water to lay her eggs, she will make tracks in the sand. Our monitors use these tracks to find nests and determine what type of sea turtle laid made that nest. Sometimes however a sea turtle will come up on shore, but not lay eggs. We call this a FALSE CRAWL. Sea turtles may false crawl because of bright lights on the beach, furniture or other obstacles, human activity, or due to the sand or nesting environment not being right. While false crawls are common, please make sure to keep your lights off, remove beach furniture, and keep your distance from nesting sea turtles!
When is nesting season?
Nesting season in south Florida is from March 1 - October 31st. There are three main species of sea turtles that nest on the beaches of Palm Beach County, FL: leatherbacks, loggerheads, and greens. Leatherbacks nest the earliest, typically March through June. Loggerheads are the most common nesters in Florida, and can be seen April through September. Green sea turtles tend to nest during hurricane season, June through September. While the season starts and ends March through October, we can see nests as early as February, and as late as November or even December!