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Beachgoers Reminded to Be Sea Turtle Friendly, the Nesting Season Has Begun

Photo courtesy Juan Manuel Gonzalez Villa -
Loggerheads produced 2,193 nests in 2021, followed by Green Turtles with 381 and Leatherbacks laid 45 nests

Sea Turtle nesting season has begun along the Treasure Coast. It runs from March 1st to November 15 every year.

Over the coming months the Green Sea Turtle, the Leatherback, and the Loggerhead will be crawling ashore to nest. All 3 are on the Endangered Species list.

Treasure Coast beaches have been designated as "a critical nesting habitat" for these sea turtles says Ken Gioeli, He is the Natural Resources Extension Agent in Fort Pierce. "Instinctively they come back to these beaches and lay their eggs ... this is home for them.”

The female turtles dig a nesting chamber and drops 100 to 150 ping pong sized eggs. Disturbing a nesting chamber, or touching any the baby turtles is against the law.

Last year 2,619 sea turtle nests were laid along St. Lucie County beaches alone. That was a 7.5% increase over 2020. Loggerheads produced 2,193 nests in 2021, followed by Green Turtles with 381 and Leatherbacks laid 45 nests.

Ahead of the peak nesting season this summer St. Lucie County is reminding beach-goers to practice sea turtle friendly habits.

Beachgoers are asked not to leave any beach chairs or other gear on the beach overnight because of the danger of entanglement. Sandcastles and holes on the beach should be returned to their natural condition to prevent sea turtle entrapment or injury.

Bonfires and flashlights are discouraged, as well as interior lighting that may illuminate the beach from homes and condos. Water front residents are encouraged to turn out all unnecessary interior lights during nesting season and close curtains and blinds at night.

“If there is too much lighting on the beach ... that could attract predators," said Gioeli. "Raccoons are an example, they will disturb these nesting sea turtles, so lighting is best when reduced.”

The turtles, says Gioeli seek out the darkest beaches where they feel safest. Too much light is also a concern when the eggs hatch and the baby turtles crawl out in search of the ocean and safety.

“If there is lighting behind the dunes what happens is that messes with their instinct, and the hatchlings, instead of going towards that moonlit horizon,  they will go backwards towards the light. And if they end up going the wrong way, they burn up all their energy and they will literally die.”

Walton Rocks Beach is the only dog-approved beach in St. Lucie County and dogs should be on leashes to prevent them from digging up sea turtle nests.

St. Lucie County enforces sea turtle lighting codes during sea turtle nesting season and if you observes sea turtle nest poaching or harassment officials ask that you call 911 or the Florida Fish and Wildlife hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC.