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6 Things To Know As Sea Turtle Nesting Season Begins In Fort Lauderdale And Beyond

It's that time of year again.

From March through the end of October, female sea turtles return to local beaches to lay their eggs. Three of five species that call Florida home nest in Broward County: green sea turtles, loggerheads and leatherbacks. In 2015, 3,088 nests were recorded in Broward County alone. 

With the start of the season upon us, we've rounded up some fun facts and useful tips to help keep you informed and our wildlife safe. 

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1.  Female sea turtles always find their way home. 

Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Nesting females almost always return to their natal beach. They use the Earth’s magnetic fields to navigate their way back. If you see a nesting female come ashore, please give her 50 feet of space, don't follow her into the water, and don't shine any lights on her. 

(Image via Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region)

 

2.  A single sea turtle nest can contain about 100 eggs. 

Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Female sea turtles nest every two to three years and can lay up to three nests during the nesting season. A sea turtle nest can have between 80 to 120 eggs in it. 

(Image via Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region)

 

3. Boy or girl? That depends on the sand. 

Sea Turtle Nesting Season

The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the sea turtle. Males develop in the bottom of the nest, where it is cooler, and females develop at the top of the nest, where it is hotter. 

(Image via Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region)

 

4.  Natural light is the guide.

Sea turtle hatchlings find the ocean using several instinctual cues. The hatchlings look for the brightest horizon they can see and move away from dark silhouettes of dune vegetation. They also utilize the slope of the beach. If you can see the beach from your window, that means the sea turtles can see your lights from the beach.  Be sure to close your blinds at night so your lights do not disorient the sea turtles.

(Video via YouTube/SeaTurtleOP)

 

5. Certain lights are OK. 

Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Sea turtles cannot see long wavelength lights, which include red, amber and orange lights. These lights are considered to be sea turtle friendly. If you find yourself on the beach at night, please do not use a flashlight. They can frighten nesting females away from the beach.

(Image courtesy National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) 

 

6. You can help keep our sea turtles safe. 

Sea Turtle Nesting Season

If you see anyone harassing a female sea turtle, putting a white lights on nesting females or hatchlings, or disturbing a sea turtle nest, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888.404.3922.

(Image via Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region)

 

Gold Coast magazine and the Sea Turtle Oversight Protection (S.T.O.P.) partnered to create this piece. The Broward County organization is a group of volunteers dedicated to saving disoriented sea turtle hatchlings and creating awareness through education. S.T.O.P. was able to rescue over 19,000 hatchlings that were disoriented by the lights along the beach last season.