Image by the Bureau of Land Management via Flickr
Sea turtle season in Florida attracts thousands of turtles to the beaches of the Emerald Coast. Interested in getting an up-close view of adult sea turtles, their nests, eggs, and darling babies? You better read our 5 Quick Tips to Know for Sea Turtle Season in Florida!
5 Quick Tips to Know for Sea Turtle Season in Florida…
1. When is it?
Sea turtle season here in the Gulf Coast of Florida spans May 15th through October 31st. If you’re looking to catch a glimpse of a turtle in its natural habitat, this is the time to do it!
Find fun things to do year-round at Okaloosa Island things to do
2. Don’t be Shell Shocked, Know the Rules!
- Never interfere with a sea turtle laying her eggs. Sudden sounds, lights, or physical interference may obstruct the birth process and cause them to abandon the nest.
- At night, keep lights down to a minimum. Whether from your condo windows, or cell phone screen, artificial lights can confuse the babies who hatch at night.
- If you are with children, keep them a good distance from an active or dormant nest. If you come upon a group of hatchlings, do not pick them up or play with them.
- In the event that you do happen across an unmarked nest, or a Sea Turtle in the process of laying eggs, call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922) to report. They will put-in-place measures to protect the nest.
- This should already be common sense, but just in case, DO NOT LITTER the beaches! containers, cans, old beach equipment, etc., may hinder a baby turtle’s path to the water, causing injury or death.
3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Happening upon a sea turtle nest behind your hotel or condo is quite unlikely. You may have to explore several beaches both during the day and at night before finding a turtle or its nest. Learn more about the different beaches in the area online at Okaloosa Island Beaches!
4. Turtle Trivia Time!
Know the species and their habits before you visit! According to the FWC, the Florida Gulf Coast is visited by several species of sea turtle. Read below to discover which species you are most likely to see during your visit to Okaloosa Island!
Loggerhead – The most common sea turtle in Florida, the Loggerhead is named for its massive, block-like head. Adults grow to a length of about 3 feet and weigh an average of 275 pounds.
Green Turtle – Named for its green body fat that was the basis of a specialty turtle soup in the 19th century, the Green Turtle is a slightly more rare sea turtle found in the Gulf Coast. Weighing an average of 350 pounds and with a length of 3.3 feet, the Green is what most of think of when we envision a sea turtle!
Leatherback (pictured right) – An adult Leatherback can grow up to 10ft and weight from 500 to 1,500 pounds! These massive pre-historic turtles are easily identified by their dark leathery, scale-less skin and seven ridges on their back. Don’t get too excited about spotting a Leatherback though, only about 30 to 60 nest in Florida per year.
Get your kids ready for the trip with a Sea Turtle Fun Pack available free online!
5. Check with Local Aquariums and Marine Biologists
Several local organizations are dedicated to the preservation of sea turtles. They organize Sea Turtle Walks, turtle releases, and house wayward sea turtles in man-made habitats. Learn about a few of the local organizations below…
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park – The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a local landmark here on Okaloosa Island. The park itself is home to hundreds of exotic species including alligators, parrots, sharks, and penguins. But the real draw are the dolphins, seals, and sea turtles! The Gulfarium also hosts events including public sea turtle releases right here on the Emerald Coast! For tickets to the Gulfarium, visit Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park Tickets online.
Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center – The Sea Turtle Conservation Center is located in nearby Navarre Beach, FL. This center is dedicated to the preservation of sea turtles. They do this through exhibits, classes, and events like sea turtle walks. Visitors to the center can say hello to “gigi”, their resident blind Loggerhead sea turtle! Learn more about this incredible local organization at their website.
Now that you’re prepared for sea turtle season in Florida, you can start looking for the best beachfront lodging for turtle-searching! Discover where to stay on Okaloosa Island online today!