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.
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.