Respect the Locals: How to Protect Sea Turtles This Nesting Season

March 6, 2023

As the nesting season approaches, here’s how we can continue to help sea turtles in The Palm Beaches.

The month of March marks the beginning of another season in Palm Beach – sea turtle nesting season. Perhaps the area’s original tourists, Green, Leatherback and Loggerhead Sea Turtles have been attracted for centuries to the pristine beaches that stretch between Jupiter and Boca Raton to lay their eggs. 

A nesting leatherback sea turtle
Courtesy of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center

However, despite the high number of hatchings produced each nesting seasons, we must take into consideration the stark reality that very few make it to adulthood with the threats they experience, including predators, fisheries bycatch, ingesting plastics, illegal harvesting, entanglement in marine debris and more. The thought of losing this species could be a devastating blow not only to oceans but to our health as well.
Sea turtles tell us the health of the ocean, which in turn tells us the health of our planet. These indicator species serve as our global ambassadors for ocean conservation.

As we return to one of nature’s greatest symphonies this nesting season, we ask you to respect the locals – the leatherback, loggerhead and green sea turtles that nest along The Palm Beaches. From March 1 to October 31, these longtime locals will make a reappearance on one of the world’s most densely nested beaches right in our backyard. In welcoming the season, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) – one of Florida's most visited nonprofit scientific facilities focused on sea turtle conservation – reminds beachgoers to use best practices to ensure nesting mothers have optimal conditions to lay their eggs.
Note: Any interaction with sea turtles requires a permit from state authorities.

Sea turtle hatchling
Courtesy of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center


Sea Turtle Do's

  • Keep your distance: Never approach or touch a nesting sea turtle. Keep your distance, always stay out of the line of sight, remain quiet and keep all lights off (including flash photography & cell phones). Touching, prodding or shining lights may cause her to not lay eggs or disturb her and affect how well she covers and camouflages the nest.
  • Let hatchlings emerge: If you see hatchlings on the beach, allow them to crawl to the ocean on their own. Do not remove or dig hatchlings out of a nest. Removing sand above the nest will make it more difficult for the hatchlings to emerge.
  • Turn off lights: Keep lights at your house off while not in use and close your blinds at night to avoid adding to the overall sky glow. Sea turtles crawl towards the brightest horizon, and artificial lighting can cause them to disorient.
  • Fill in your holes: Fill in all holes and knock over sandcastles so that nesting turtles and hatchlings do not fall into them and are not hindered as they crawl on the beach.
A marked sea turtle nesting site
Courtesy of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center


Sea Turtle Don'ts

  • Leave it behind: Remove obstacles such as beach chairs, tables, water sport equipment and umbrellas before dark. A turtle nests every three to four feet. Therefore, there are high chances of puncturing sea turtle nests or eggs when umbrellas are staked into the ground.
  • Dig holes: Avoid digging holes or using shovels to not interfere with incubating sea turtle nests.
  • Be a litterbug: Do not leave any trash behind. Trash can hinder nesting and hatchling turtles from crawling to and from the beach. Also, sea turtles may accidentally ingest trash left behind.
  • Release balloons: Don’t release balloons. They travel far distances and can be eaten by sea turtles and other marine organisms.
  • Host bonfires: Bonfires may be accidentally situated on a nesting site. Also, hatchlings can often be lured or disoriented by light emitted by fires.


Protocol During Inclement Weather

During periods of heavier wind or wave action on Florida’s coastline, sea turtle eggs may become exposed. LMC advises beachgoers to leave exposed eggs and nests untouched; disoriented hatchlings should be brought to the Center’s 24-hour hatchling rescue cooler, which is located at the entrance of the center. Threatened and endangered hatchlings should be transported with extreme care, in a bucket with damp sand and no water, to prevent accidental drowning.
If you discover a sick, injured or stranded sea turtle, please call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (*FWC) or LMC’s Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline at 561.603.0211.

Thank you for doing your part to make the 2023 nesting season a success! For more information, please visit LMC’s website at

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