Escambia County’s white sand beaches attract more than just tourists. Four of the six species of sea turtles found in U.S. waters make an annual pilgrimage to our beaches during the nesting season. Loggerhead sea turtles are the most common, accounting for over 90 percent of all sea turtle nests in Escambia County. They are also joined by green, leatherback, and Kemp's Ridley sea turtles. All species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered and are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
Sea turtles face many threats, from habitat loss to the far-reaching effects of climate change. On nesting beaches, artificial light can lead to disorientation, false crawls and an overall decrease in hatchling survival. The Board of County Commissioners recognizes the importance of our beaches to sea turtles and in 2014 passed the Barrier Island Lighting Ordinance, Escambia County Code of Ordinance Sec 5.4-8.
As of January 1, 2018, all artificial lighting on Pensacola Beach must adhere to the lighting ordinance and/or be converted to sea turtle friendly lighting. This is an extraordinary step forward in the county's sea turtle conservation efforts that should increase hatchling survival rates and lower disorientation rates significantly. The proactive conservation measures being taken by Escambia County will further solidify the county's reputation as a forward thinking and environmentally conscious region that is committed to building a better future all of its' inhabitants. To learn more about the lighting ordinance and how to make your home sea turtle friendly, click here.
How Can You Help?
Check out our Leave No Trace section to see how you can minimize your impact on our beaches.
The Natural Resources Management Department is responsible for implementing measures designed to protect sea turtles and urges everyone to learn more about these magnificent creatures. Use the navigation bar on the left to learn more about sea turtles and what you can do to protect them.