Sea Turtles in Destin-Fort Walton Beach
Destin-Fort Walton Beach is home to four of our seven types of sea turtles! You can see Loggerhead, Green, Kemp’s Ridley, and even Leatherback sea turtles in our Gulf of Mexico waters!
Sea Turtle Nesting Season
Sea turtle nesting season is May 1st through October 31st in Destin-Fort Walton Beach. Sea turtles live in our waters year-round but during this time of the year, they are coming up onto our beaches to lay their eggs! They typically do this in the middle of the night when there is less of a chance of interference or disturbance. So it’s important to keep our beaches and waters safe for our nesting sea turtles!
How can I help protect sea turtles?
- Remove all of your belongings from the beach. This includes umbrellas, tents, chairs, towels, toys, and most importantly trash. These items act as obstacles for our sea turtles and may deter them from nesting.
- Fill in your holes and flatten your sandcastles! Sea turtles crawl onto the beach in the dark and could easily fall into a large hole. This would prevent them from nesting and possibly keep them from getting back to the water.
- Look out for turtles while boating. If you are renting a boat, make sure you drive slow and look out for swimming sea turtles. Obey no wake zones!
- Refrain from using white flashlights. This includes your phone flashlight, flash photography and videography! Bright white lights can scare nesting females and prevent them from coming onto the beach to lay their eggs. Hatchling sea turtles need a dark environment when hatching from the nest so they can make it safely to the water. When staying in a beach-front condo, make sure you turn off all outdoor lights and close your curtains at night. Artificial white lights on land will cause the hatchlings to disorient and head inland instead of to the water. If you must use a light on the beach at night, make sure that it is a red light and not a white flashlight.
You can pick up a free turtle-friendly flashlight at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Welcome Center!
How many different types of sea turtles are there?
There are seven species of sea turtles in the world. In Destin-Fort Walton Beach, you can expect to see four of those seven species. We have Loggerhead sea turtles, Green sea turtles, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, and Leatherback sea turtles. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are the rarest species, so we are very lucky we have them.
Where can I see sea turtles?
Our sea turtles are very active and can be seen in the crystal-clear waters of Destin-Fort Walton Beach. Check out our blog post on Where to See Sea Turtles for information.
What do I do if I see a sea turtle on the beach?
Call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Wildlife Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.
If she is nesting, stay behind her at a distance and keep quiet. Refrain from using any lights, including flashlights and flash photography. Do not touch the sea turtle or get too close to her.
Want to learn more about sea turtles?
You can sign up for “C.A.R.E.”ing for Turtles on the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center page: https://gulfarium.com/careing-for-turtles/
For more information on sea turtle conservation efforts, e-mail [email protected]
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