North Florida Ecological Services Office
Southeast Region

How You Can Help Protect Sea Turtles

  • Minimize beachfront lighting during the sea turtle nesting season by turning off, shielding, or redirecting lights.
  • Close blinds and draperies in oceanfront rooms at night during the nesting season to keep indoor lighting from reaching the beach.
  • Do not construct campfires on the beach. Sea turtle hatchlings are known to be attracted to the light emitted by campfires and crawl into fires and die.
  • Use your natural vision when walking on the beach at night. The use of flashlights and flash photography can deter turtles from coming ashore to nest or cause them to abort nesting attempts.
  • If you encounter a turtle on the beach at night, remain quiet, still, and at a distance, otherwise she may become frightened and return to the ocean without nesting.
  • 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.
  • Properly dispose of your garbage. Turtles may mistake plastic bags, 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.
  • Remove recreational equipment, such as lounge chairs, cabanas, umbrellas, and boats, from the beach at night. Their presence can deter nesting attempts and interfere with the seaward journey of hatchlings.
  • Protect beach vegetation that stabilizes sand and the natural coastline.
  • 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 foraging and resting habitats for sea turtles.

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Last updated: May 1, 2013