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Nassau County Sea Turtle Protection

Nassau County Sea Turtle Protection

May 1st marked the beginning of sea turtle nesting season. Mama sea turtles have begun making their way to our Florida beaches to lay their eggs. It is important that we all do our part to protect nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings. Below are ways residents and visitors can help: 

Keep beach conditions safe.  

  • Beach fires are prohibited from May 1 - October 31st (sea turtle nesting season)
  • Remove all beach gear, fishing gear, trash and other items from the beach prior to nightfall
  • Keep the beach flat. Not only are holes dangerous to people walking on the beach, they can be deadly to sea turtle hatchlings. Fill all holes before you leave. 

Turn off the lights. Nassau County Code, Section 37.07, Beachfront Lighting Restrictions, was created to safeguard nesting mothers and their hatchlings. Failure to comply could result in a fine. 

  • Avoid flash photography which can be disturbing and harmful to see turtles
  • Replace white porch lights with turtle safe lighting found at your local hardware store
  • Eliminate, turn off, redirect or shield lights that can be seen from the beach surface
  • Install timers and/or motion detectors and set the timer to 5 minutes or less for areas where light is needed
  • Keep pool and cabana lights off
  • Apply dark window tinting or draw curtains/blinds after dark
  • Avoid using flashlights on the beach at night. Instead, use turtle safe flashlights found at your local hardware store 

Respect the mothers as they produce their hatchlings and fulfill their need to lay as many eggs as possible

  • While walking, be aware of turtle nests and avoid getting too close
  • Walking on moist sand will prevent surprising a female and emerging hatchlings. If you encounter an adult emerging from the sea, be still and allow her to travel up to the beach. Speak softly and slowly while in their presence.
  • Do not approach a female while she is laying her eggs

Watch out for hatchlings

  • While walking on the beach, look out for baby turtles on their way to see and avoid stepping on them.
  • Avoid all turtle nests
  • Hatchlings do not need help walking on the beach, however they do need a clear path to the ocean.

The Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch is a local, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered sea turtles. At sunrise every morning, you will see their volunteers surveying the beach to look for signs that a turtle came ashore during the night. When a nest is identified, it will be roped off with caution tape to prevent people from traversing the area. The nest is then closely monitored and once the eggs have hatched, the AISTW will schedule an excavation to help any hatchlings that didn't make it out on their own, and to collect empty egg shells and unhatched eggs to take inventory and keep track of the number of eggs laid on Nassau County beaches. Interested in attending a turtle excavation? Visit the AISTW webpage and watch for announcements related to excavation schedules. 

Last but not least, beachfront property owners living along the beach in the unincorporated (County) area (Peters Point south the State Park) should have received the attached mailer late last week with friendly tips on protecting sea turtles from artificial lighting. Please keep this document displayed as a reminder to yourself to remain cognizant of activities that are harmful to nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings. 

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