Keeping The Beach Safe For Sea Turtles
Each year female Loggerhead Sea Turtles return to St. Pete Beach to lay their eggs on our beautiful sand. Below you will find some simple steps that every beach visitor can do to help sea turtles nesting on St Pete Beach. They need your help to make sure their eggs hatch and the hatchlings reach the water.
Thousands of tourists visit St. Pete Beach every year spending lazy days not only enjoying our beautiful soft sand but get a chance to see our wonderful sea life including Dolphins and manatees. After watching an amazing sunset, and long after everyone has left the beach bars, our beach remains dark, especially during turtle nesting season when properties along to seafront dim their lights. That is when the magic happens.
Sea Turtles nest on St. Pete Beach every year between May and September/October and are an endangered and protected species. These majestic creatures return year after year to lay their eggs on our sand.
Be aware that it is illegal to disturb or touch nesting turtles in any way whatsoever!
A female turtle leaves the ocean and starts her slow walk across the sand to choose a spot to lay her eggs. This is a very anxious time for the turtle. She is not as agile on land as in the sea and is easily spooked. Any disturbance or interruption could cause her to return to the water and not lay her eggs on our beach.
At dawn during turtle nesting season our beaches are patrolled by an amazing group of volunteers from Sea Turtle Trackers who check for new nests and activity. They mark and record new nests. Each nest is roped and fenced off so that it is not disturbed by humans.
Sea Turtle eggs take approximately 50-60 days to hatch. The nest is monitored every day and when closer to hatching volunteers guard the nest from a distance all night to ensure the safety of the hatchlings.
The baby turtles hatch during the night and make a slow crawl across the sand following the light of the horizon. This is an extremely vulnerable time for them. They are tiny and crawl very slowly. This is a ritual that has been taking place for ever but with the increasing population and visitors to our area humans sometimes make it very hard for them to reach the ocean and without the volunteers many more would perish.
Visitors to our beaches can help in many ways to ensure the precious baby turtles are able to hatch and make it to the ocean. Sadly humans create a lot of hurdles that can cause the turtles to get hurt or even die. They have enough natural predators like sea birds that we do not want to add humans into the mix.
Help Sea Turtles Nesting On St Pete Beach
You Can Help Save Baby Sea Turtles
These simple steps that everyone can do to help save a baby sea turtles life.
- Knockdown sand castles when you leave – baby sea turtles cannot climb!
- Fill in any holes dug in the sand – they can easily fall in holes and perish, especially if they are there all night. Please flatten the sand before you leave.
- Pick up ALL your trash This is a big one. Wildlife die from eating or getting tangled in trash left on the beach or washed into the ocean.
- Fishermen – PLEASE take all hooks, line etc off the beach. I have seen horrible cases of injured wildlife tangled in fishing line or had been hooked. I know the birds love to hang out while you are fishing and some dive down after your bait but be responsible. If you hook a bird you need to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife (see below for phone number). Don’t just leave it to die.
Yet More Ways To Keep Sea Turtles And Their Babies Safe
- Do not pull up the stakes marking the turtle nests. Some children do not realize what these are and pull them up. This means unsuspecting humans may walk all over the nests.
- Do not shine lights onto the beach. Do not use any flash lights, camera or video flash if you are on the beach at night during nesting season, especially if you stumble upon a hatching nest. Dim all house lights facing the beach or shut the curtains. Do not set up a spot light to BBQ in the yard. Baby turtle follow the light to the ocean. Against a dark beach this is usually the faint glow from the moon on the horizon.
- Never pick up a sea turtle. It is ILLEGAL to pick-up or disturb a Loggerhead Turtle. With the increase of people on social media trying to take pictures holding animals we beg you not to do this with turtles.
- Leave baby turtles alone. Sometimes a good samaritan who has stumbled across a nest of hatching turtles feel they need to help the babies over the sand to the ocean. Do not I repeat do not disturb them in any way! Yes, they do walk slow and it may seem like they may not make it to the ocean. The slow walk across the sand is imprinting on them so they can find their way back to nest and lay their own eggs.
- Spot a Sea Turtle on the Beach. If you do spot a sea turtle on the beach please be very respectful and keep at least 20-30 feet behind them. Do not take flash photos, make loud noises or shine any form of light. Admire the beautiful turtle but do not interact with it.
- Donate to a Sea Turtle Organization. Both Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Sea Turtle Trackers do an amazing job here locally.
- If you find a turtle that needs help please call the professionals first. See below for contact details
Follow the above advice and you will be helping baby sea turtles on St. Pete Beach get the best start in life and the opportunity to come back and lay their own eggs one day.
Who to call if you see a sea turtles in distress on St. Pete Beach, Florida
Contact one of the following organizations. They all help Sea Turtles on St Pete Beach.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement at 1-888-404-FWCC or *FWC from your cell phone.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium at (727) 441-1790 Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Sea Turtle Trackers Turtle Joe (727) 744-6524
Learn More About Sea Turtles
A visit to our lovely beach could also become an amazing learning opportunity for people of all ages. With the wonderful variety of land and sea life there are ample learning opportunities.
A visit to Clearwater Marine Aquarium – home of movie star Winter the Dolphin
Every Tuesday at 4pm Sea Turtle Trackers give a talk on Sea Turtles. Held at Guy Harvey Outpost, Tradewinds Resort. They have amazing fish tank from the TV show Tanked.
Enjoy the beach and do you bit to help Sea Turtles Nesting on St Pete Beach.
Most of all enjoy the beach, and remember to leave nothing but footprints on the sand.