Alert: Beaches Closed to Camping May-Sept

Island Camping

The Refuge is closed to camping May-September due to nesting shorebirds and sea turtles.

During Southwest Florida's summer months of May 1 through September 30, Camp Key, Panther Key, Hog Key, and Bee Key beaches within Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge are closed to camping for the protection of nesting shorebirds and sea turtles. Human influences, including campfires, tents, and boats can disrupt nest site selection and safe emergence of hatchlings. Refuge biologists spend the summer monitoring nesting sea turtles and public access to vulnerable nesting shorebird colonies. Camping access is permitted once again beginning October 1 after the nesting season concludes.

Southwest Florida’s threatened Loggerhead and Green sea turtles face many natural and human induced obstacles to survive from hatching on beaches to reproductive age in marine waters. In addition to heavy beach traffic that may deter nesting sea turtles, mothers and hatchlings often encounter obstacles created by unknowing visitors. When leaving the beach, please remove all gear and trash, knock down sand structures, and fill in dug holes that my obstruct sea turtles and their hatchlings. Hatchling sea turtles rely upon the shine of ocean water, light of the moon, and the bright horizon to find their way to marine waters. Artificial lights can seriously confuse hatchlings, causing them to travel toward housing security lights or the shine of a flashlight. To help sea turtles, please remember to turn off beachfront lights during the nesting season and be sure to use red, night-time friendly lights if you are on the beach after dark.