Sea Turtle Nesting Season Begins Saturday


Daytona Beach, FL - Over the next few months hundreds of sea turtles will be emerging from the surf to lay eggs on the beach as nesting season begins this weekend.

And while the season doesn't officially begin until Saturday (May 1), Ryan Chabot, Volusia County's sea turtle Habitat Conservation Plan program manager, told News Daytona Beach that there's already one leatherback turtle nest laid so far.

"It's in the kind of in the North Daytona Beach/South Ormond area," said Chabot. "They're definitely here and they should start arriving as we make our way into May."

As coastal water temperatures warm up, nesting females will come out of the surf to lay their eggs away from the water. Once the eggs are laid, they will incubate in the sand for a couple of months before tiny hatchlings break free and make an often treacherous crawl to the ocean.

During that crawl, hatchlings have to dodge dangerous obstacles such as predators, holes, trash and beach furniture. Unfortunately, some could also be led into harm’s way by beachfront lighting.

Experts believe that 1,000 to 10,000 hatchlings will make it safely to sexual maturity, which may take 10 to 25 years, and Chabot is looking to improve that.

"We want to make Volusia County beaches safe, inviting places for humans and sea turtles," Chabot said. "We encourage residents and visitors alike to respect our wildlife; let the night provide the light; and keep our beaches clean, dark and flat."

Volusia County also provided a list of tips for residents and visitors on how to keep sea turtles safe during nesting season.

  • Do not touch or disturb sea turtles or their nests. It’s important that hatchlings make their own way to the ocean.
  • Do not disturb the dune system or plants. Use designated beach access points and do not walk on the dunes.
  • When driving at the beach, use the designated traffic lanes and parking areas. Beach driving access hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the nesting season, tide permitting.
  • Do not use flash photography at night.
  • Do not use cellphones to light your way at night.
  • Use only red LED flashlights; they are less visible to turtle eyes.
  • After a day at the beach, flatten sandcastles, fill in holes, and take your chairs and equipment with you. This is an easy way to reduce obstacles faced by sea turtles.
  • Dispose of trash and recyclables in proper receptacles. Trash left on the beach can attract predators that impact sea turtle nests.
  • Do not use fireworks. They are not only prohibited on the beach at all times, but they can be disruptive to turtles.
  • If you see a nesting adult sea turtle or hatchlings making their way to the ocean, admire them from a safe distance. Stand far away, remain calm and quietly enjoy this special experience.

Additionally, if a turtle appears to be in danger, notify a lifeguard, Beach Safety officer, or call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-3922.

If you're interested in volunteering with one of Volusia County's turtle survey groups, visit the webpages of the Volusia/Flagler Turtle Patrol or the New Smyrna Beach Turtle Trackers.


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