Sea turtle nesting season is synonymous with summer along the Gulf Coast. Observing nestlings hatch and make their way to the sea as quickly as their little fins will carry them is one of the most exhilarating experiences that I’ve had in nature. If you are lucky enough to get the chance to observe these majestic creatures while on your beach vacation, take time out to do so…safely.
Sea Turtle Facts
1. Sea Turtle nesting season lasts from May 1 to October 31.
2. Protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, sea turtles are among the most endangered marine species swimming in the waters off the Emerald Coast today.
3. Year after year, sea turtles return to the same beach to nest and lay about 100 eggs.
4. Hatchlings are attracted to the bright openness of the water and are disoriented by lighting from oceanfront homes.
5. Only an estimated one in 1,000 to 10,000 hatchling sea turtles will survive to adulthood.
6. Humans are the biggest threat to endangered sea turtles.
What You Can Do To Help
Beach communities from Destin to Orange Beach have adopted lighting ordinances and Leave No Trace programs to ensure that hatchlings reach the water safely. During your stay on the beach, make sure all outdoor lights are turned off at night, and pull all shades and curtains to block light streaming from oceanfront windows. Remove all beach chairs, toys, umbrellas, and trash from the sand and flatten any sand castles and fill all holes. One light or one hole in the sand can mislead and trap hundreds of baby sea turtles, ruining their chance for survival. If you see a sea turtle nesting, stay out of her way and do not use a camera flash or a flashlight. Contact local authorities if you notice a sea turtle in harm’s way.