Sea turtle nesting season begins on Sunday, May 1, and the Town is reminding residents and visitors to do their part to help protect adult and hatchling sea turtles as they nest on our beaches.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium monitors the beaches from Clearwater Beach through Treasure Island, and Sea Turtle Trackers monitors the beaches of St. Pete Beach, Shell Key and Outback.
Staff members conduct early-morning patrols to locate new nesting sites. Residents should not pick up hatchlings heading toward the water, shine lights or use photo equipment with a flash. Hatchlings use starlight and moonlight reflecting off the water to find their way to the ocean, and if they become misled by artificial light, they can become disoriented and die.
Besides checking the beaches every morning for signs of new nests, staff mark the nests and tape them off to avoid human disturbance. As endangered and threatened species, Kemp’s Ridley and Loggerhead turtles are protected under state and federal law, and disturbing them, their nests or even a dead turtle is illegal.
To report the disturbance of a sea turtle nest, or report the sightings of turtles that are dead, lost, stranded or wandering in the street, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement at 1-888-404-3922 or dial *FWC from a cell phone. Residents can also report these sightings on the FWC website at bit.ly/turtle-report.
Redington Beach has a sea turtle ordinance. The entire ordinance can be read by clicking this link: REDINGTON BEACH SEA TURTLE ORDINANCE
Loggerheads are the most common sea turtle to nest in Pinellas County, and females generally nest from early May through August. The eggs in each nest typically hatch 50 to 60 days after they are laid.
During nesting season, which runs through Oct. 31, beach residents and beach visitors should do the following:
- Turn off outside lights, close curtains and avoid using flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
- Remove obstacles such as sandcastles or sand pits that may interfere with nesting sea turtles or make it too difficult for hatchlings to make their way to the shoreline.
- Keep the beach clean. Eliminate trash items that may entangle baby hatchlings and adult turtles.
- Do not approach or harass adult or baby turtles.
- If residents spot turtle tracks or a possible nest, and it does not appear to be protected by stakes or ribbon, call 1-888-404-3922.
- For residents who own or live in beachside properties, make sure lighting is turtle-friendly. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)’s sea turtle lighting guidelines can be found at bit.ly/sea-turtle-lighting.