The Escambia County Sea Turtle Conservation Program recorded the season’s first sea turtle nest on Perdido Key early this morning, Wednesday, June 10. The loggerhead nest is one of two nests currently on county-patrolled beaches, after high tides and heavy surf from Tropical Storm Cristobal washed away two nests on Pensacola Beach earlier this week.
Four species of sea turtle nest on Escambia County beaches May through October. Loggerheads are the most common nesters; however, greens, leatherbacks and the rare Kemp’s Ridley have also been recorded nesting on area beaches. Once the eggs are laid, they will incubate for around 60 days, after which hatchlings emerge under the cover of darkness and make their way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Sea turtles of all sizes face many threats. Excessive artificial lights can disorient both nesting and hatchling turtles, leading them away from the Gulf of Mexico and into danger. Furniture and other personal belongings left on the beach overnight can trap and injure turtles. Plastic pollution and other debris can entangle turtles and cause sickness when accidentally eaten.
Help Protect Sea Turtles in Escambia County:
- Lights Out! Female turtles prefer dark, quiet beaches for nesting and hatchlings need dark skies to find the Gulf of Mexico. Leave the flashlights and cell phones at home or use a red flashlight when on the beach at night. Turn off beach-facing lights and close windows and curtains to keep our beaches dark.
- Leave No Trace! Remove all furniture and toys from the beach when you’re done for the day, including hammocks, tents, canopies, chairs, toys and sports equipment.
- Stow It, Don’t Throw it! Trash and food waste can entangle turtles and other wildlife and attract unwanted predators. Always dispose of trash in the proper receptacle and refrain from feeding wildlife.
- Knock it Down! Hatchling turtles and shorebird chicks are small and easily trapped by holes and steep cliffs. Always knock down sandcastles and fill in holes at the end of your visit to prevent trapping and injuring wildlife.
If you encounter a nesting turtle, turn off all lights and retreat a safe distance away. Dead or injured sea turtles should be reported to Escambia County Marine Resources at 850- 426-1257 or the FWC Wildlife Alert line at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). For more information about sea turtles in Escambia County visit www.myescambia.com/seaturtles.