Sea Turtle Protection

The Florida marine turtle nesting season is from May to October each year.

Lighting is one of the primary concerns for both nesting turtles and hatchlings. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) keeps an updated list of best management practices for marine turtle lighting:

Please also refer to the City's Coastal Lighting Standards.

fl avg light levels without AThere are simple steps everyone can take to help protect marine turtles such as:
  • Not leaving objects on the beach overnight (refer to the City's Leave No Trace ordinance here)
  • Knocking down sand castles and filling in holes before leaving the beach
  • Placing all trash and recyclables in the proper containers
  • Drawing the curtains at night to keep light from being seen from the beach
  • Shielding all exterior lighting, using the least amount of lighting necessary, keeping lights low to the ground, and using long wavelength (amber) bulbs

Have questions about turtle lighting standards? We are here to help:

Call the FWC Wildlife Alert number at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) to report:

  • Stranded hatchlings
  • Harassment of sea turtles
  • Disturbance of nests
  • Entangled sea turtles
  • Disoriented hatchlings
  • Dead or injured sea turtles or hatchlings

If you observe a property with improper lighting, please report it to the City's Code Enforcement staff at (727) 547-4575.

There are seven species of sea turtles including the green turtle, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead, olive ridley, Kemp’s ridley and flatback. All but the olive ridley and flatback are found in Florida. Females nest every two or three years during the summer, when they crawl to the shore to dig a nest in the sand using her rear fins. The female deposits about 100 eggs the size of ping pong balls in the nest. When she’s finished, she covers the eggs with sand and returns to the ocean. Male sea turtles never return to the shore after hatching. Only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood. 

Excess lighting from buildings and streets draw hatchlings toward land and deter females from nesting. Hatchlings have an innate instinct that leads them in the brightest direction, which is ideally the moonlight reflecting off of the ocean.
If you live or stay within view of the Gulf, be sure to turn off the lights inside your house when you leave and keep your curtains drawn when you are home. Also, make sure any exterior lights visible from the beach are turtle compliant. Do not use flashlights or cellphones on the beach at night.
When you encounter a sea turtle
Do not shine lights at or take flash photos of the sea turtles; it interferes with their sense of direction. Do not touch them and always give them plenty of space. Nests are protected and marked with a small sign and plastic tape. Be careful not to enter this protected area.
Take extra care with waste disposal. Turtles can get tangled up in items such as fishing line and 6-pack rings or mistake other items for food.
Acceptable Light Fixtures & Bulbs
Refer to FWC's webpage and the City's Coastal Lighting ordinance (links above). 

Additional measures:
  • Plant or improve vegetation buffers (such as sea grapes and other native beach vegetation) between the light source and the beach to screen light from the beach.
  • To reduce spillover from indoor lighting move light fixtures away from windows, apply window tint to your windows that meets the 45% inside to outside transmittance standards for tinted glass (you'll save on air conditioning costs too!), or use window treatments (blinds, curtains) to shield interior lights from the beach.

Public sea turtle walks
If you want to watch a nesting sea turtle, join an organized sea turtle walk that has been approved by the FWC Imperiled Species Management Section. Permitted walks are usually offered from May through July each year. The turtle walk leaders are trained to aid the public in watching sea turtles without disturbing them during nesting. For a list of organized walks in Florida, please call (850) 922-4330 or (561) 575-5407. An on-line list is also available at