Sea Turtles in Alabama
Three species of sea turtles are known to nest on Alabama's beaches. Each of these turtles is protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Loggerhead and Green sea turtles are federally listed as threatened; the Kemps Ridley is endangered. To learn more about these magnificent sea creatures, check the links in the column on the right for sites with excellent background information.
What can you do to help?
- Minimize beachfront lighting during the sea turtle nesting season by turning off, shielding, or redirecting lights away from the beach.
- Close blinds and draperies in oceanfront rooms at night to keep indoor lighting from reaching the beach.
- Remove recreational equipment, such as lounge chairs, cabanas, umbrellas, and boats, from the beach at night. These items can deter nesting attempts and prevent hatchlings from reaching the ocean.
- Use your natural vision and moonlight when walking on the beach at night.
- If you encounter a turtle on the beach at night, remain quiet, still and at a distance. Flash photography and human disturbance may prevent her from nesting successfully.
- Leave the tracks left by turtles undisturbed. Researchers use the tracks to identify the species of turtle that nested and to find and mark the nests for protection. If you encounter a sea turtle nest or hatchlings, leave the eggs and baby turtles alone.
- Properly dispose of your garbage. Turtles may mistake plastic bags, polystyrene (i.e. Styrofoam), and trash floating in the water as food and die when this trash blocks their intestines.
- Celebrate events without the use of helium balloon releases. Like plastic trash, balloons end up in the ocean, especially when released near the coast. Sea turtles mistakenly eat the balloons and die.
- Avoid trampling beach vegetation. Use boardwalks when available instead of walking over dunes. Natural vegetation stabilizes sand and reduces beach erosion.
- When boating, stay alert and avoid sea turtles. Propeller and collision impacts from boats and ships can result in injury and death of sea turtles. Also, stay in channels and avoid running in seagrass beds to protect this important habitat from prop scarring and damage.
- Avoid anchoring boats in seagrass beds and coral reefs which serve as important feeding and resting habitats for sea turtles.
Adapted from USFWS Brochure You Can Help Protect Sea Turtle
- Alabama Sea Turtle Volunteer Program
- USFWS Sea Turtle Information Page
- NOAA Office of Protected Resources-Marine Turtles
- "You Can Help Protect Sea Turtles" Brochure (pdf)
- Sea Turtle-Friendly Lighting Guidelines