Escambia County’s sea turtle nesting season has just passed its halfway mark, with a total of 17 nests located on Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach. Fifteen nests are Loggerhead, the most common turtle to county beaches, and the other two are rare Kemp’s Ridley nests.
As we approach the peak of nesting season, Escambia County wants to remind beach-goers to “Leave No Trace” for the safety of hatchling sea turtles. Nesting may occur through the late summer; however, the first nests are expected to hatch in early August. Sea turtle hatchlings face many threats on their first trip to the Gulf, both natural and human-caused.
Bright artificial lights from homes, cars and businesses may disorient hatchlings, leading them away from the Gulf and into danger. Furniture, toys, holes and other obstacles on the beach may trap hatchlings or cause serious injury.
Hatchlings that don’t reach the Gulf quickly are easy prey for predators and at risk of dehydration, starvation and death. Only 1 in 1000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood.
Do Your Part to Protect Hatchling Turtles by remembering:
- Lights Out! Both hatchlings and nesting turtles need dark beaches 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.
If you see a nest hatching or encounter hatchlings turtles on the beach, call Escambia County Marine Resources at 850-426-1257. If you encounter a nesting turtle, turn off all lights and retreat a safe distance away.
For more information about sea turtles in Escambia County visit www.myescambia.com/seaturtles. All sea turtle work performed by Escambia County was completed under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission permit #032.