TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, March 1, the Florida State Parks Foundation celebrates the beginning of sea turtle nesting season and applauds the work of Florida State Parks rangers, managers, biologists and volunteers in caring for Florida’s five species of native sea turtles.

Sea turtle nesting season occurs each year from March through October. Forty of Florida’s 175 state parks are home to a combined 12,000 sea turtle nesting sites. Teams of park staff, volunteers and interns conduct surveys at these 40 parks each day throughout the season.

“Sea turtles are among our state’s most beloved wildlife, and Florida State Parks staff members are leaders in the care and management for these special creatures,” said Julia Gill Woodward, CEO of the Florida State Parks Foundation. “The Foundation is thankful for all the work done to protect, monitor and study nesting sea turtles in state parks, and we are committed to doing all we can to support these efforts.”

The Florida State Parks Foundation has frequently partnered with the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Sea Turtle Grants Program for several projects, amenities and infrastructure geared to support turtle activity in state parks.

These include:

  • New UTVs at two South Florida-area state parks.
  • Reusable seaturtle education kits in nine state parks across Florida.
  • New turtle-friendly lighting at Sebastian Inlet State Park.
  • Nine new Trimble GPS units used to aid nest data collection.
  • Outdoor seaturtle tank renovations at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park.

“Thousands of sea turtles rely on Florida’s beaches to nest each year,” said Florida State Parks Director Chuck Hatcher. “Thanks to the efforts of our park staff, several parks set records for nesting numbers in 2023, and we are looking forward to another safe and successful nesting season in 2024.”

The Florida Park Service has shared some official tips for park visitors to help nesting sea turtles.

  • Do not disturb a nesting or hatchling seaturtle – no lights or camera flashes.
  • Avoid disturbing marked seaturtle nests.
  • Leave the beach as natural as possible.
  • Knock down sandcastles and make sure to fill in any holes you dig while visiting the beach so nesting and hatchling turtlesdon’t become trapped.
  • Remove any beach chairs, beach umbrellas, boats or other beach equipment each evening. These can become obstacles for nesting and hatchling seaturtles.
  • Don’t litter and take your trash with you when you leave the beach.
  • Volunteer at beach cleanup events.
  • Don’t release balloons into the air. They travel far and end up in our oceans, where they are consumed by seaturtles that mistake them for food.
  • Don’t allow pets to approach or dig up nests.

About the Author: Foundation Staff