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Beach Conditions

Wildlife

An abundance of wildlife calls Destin-Fort Walton Beach its home. While you’re visiting our beautiful beaches and natural areas you’ll spot an array of wildlife including sea turtles, birds, and dolphins. Strolling on our beaches, trails or enjoying one of a natural park areas you will spot plenty of wildlife living within its natural habitat.

The beaches in Destin-Fort Walton Beach are home to the remarkable sea turtle. Sea turtle season occurs between April and November and during this time the female sea turtle comes ashore at night to lay her eggs in the sand and head back out to sea. Typical nests have 80-120 eggs, with only 1 out 1,000 babies surviving to adulthood. Due to human exploitation and habitat destruction, sea turtles are threatened with extinction. Never disturb a turtle that is crawling to or from the water or crowd around a nesting turtle. Any disturbances can cause a sea turtle adult or hatchling to become disoriented, get hurt, and possibly injured. Read more about protecting sea turtle populations in Destin-Fort Walton Beach.

Please help us protect the endangered sea turtle by following these simple guidelines:

  • Keep the beach dark at night: use red lights or no lights
  • Do not shine lights in a turtle’s eyes or take flash photos
  • Shut off balcony lights and close blinds at night
  • Fill in holes and take beach gear off the beach each evening
  • Never disturb a sea turtle as they make their journey

All sea turtles are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act and Florida state law. Following these simple guidelines will help protect these endangered creatures who call the Destin-Fort Walton Beach home!

Destin-Fort Walton Beach offers many birding opportunities along our beautiful coastline. Bird-watchers will get a chance to spy terns, gulls, black skimmers, brown pelicans, several species of shorebirds, great blue and little blue herons, snowy egrets, reddish egrets (in the fall) and occasionally black-necked stilts. Watchers will also view loons, northern gannets and various sea ducks paddling offshore and all visible with a good spotting scope. From May through August, rare least terns and snowy plovers nest in the sand.

A favorite marine animal to see is the dolphin. One of the joys of vacationing in Destin-Fort Walton Beach is watching the bottlenose dolphins at play. Enjoy a dolphin-watching cruise or visit the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park for private dolphin encounters. In the Gulfarium’s unforgettable experience, alongside a trainer, you will see a bottlenose dolphin an up-close and personal. Snorkeling or diving is another great way to experience fish and other sea creatures first hand. Destin-Fort Walton Beach is a nature-based destination where you can experience and enjoy the abundance of wildlife in Destin-Fort Walton Beach.

FEATURED STORY

Three Ways to Participate in International Dark Sky Week in Destin-Fort Walton Beach

International Dark Sky Week is a worldwide celebration to bring awareness to the harmful effects of light pollution. What is light pollution? Light pollution is the human-made alteration of outdoor light levels from those occurring naturally. Why reduce the impact of light pollution? For one, do…

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Trip Ideas

While beachgoers can lay out on the sand, shoppers can stroll down the HarborWalk Village and savor plates of Gulf-to-Table seafood. What will you do in Destin-Fort Walton Beach?

Three Ways to Participate in International Dark Sky Week in Destin-Fort Walton Beach

International Dark Sky Week is a worldwide celebration to bring awareness to the harmful effects of light pollution. What is light pollution? Light pollution is the human-made alteration of outdoor light levels from those occurring naturally. Why reduce the impact of light pollution? For one, do…

Read more
a pier under the water with a blue sky.

Where to See Sea Turtles in Destin-Fort Walton Beach

Where to See Sea Turtles in Destin-Fort Walton Beach Destin-Fort Walton Beach is home to some amazing wildlife, including our four species of sea turtles! You can see Loggerhead, Green, Kemp’s Ridley, and Leatherback sea turtles in our crystal-clear Gulf waters. Our flippered friends are active and…

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scuba diver underwater near artificial reef

Destin-Fort Walton Coastal Team Deploys Nearly 40 Artificial Reefs

Destin-Fort Walton Coastal Team Deploys Nearly 40 Artificial Reefs Okaloosa County’s Coastal Resource Team is gearing up to deploy 38 prefabricated artificial reef modules off the coast of Destin-Fort Walton Beach, an exciting initiative that highlights the community’s dedication to marine conservation. The project, made possible through funding provided by…

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a poster for a marine park featuring a turtle.

June 12, 2024

C.A.R.Eing for Turtles Talk

Participants will learn about sea turtles, their nesting habits, and how to protect sea turtles…

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