With six weeks left until nesting season ends, sea turtles have laid a record-breaking 1,482 nests on Volusia County beaches. This beats last year’s record of 1,427. Staff and volunteers have also counted more than 33,000 hatched eggshells since the first nests began hatching in June.

Loggerheads are leading the charge to the county’s beaches, laying 1,251 nests so far. Green sea turtles have scored a personal best with 231 nests, up from the previous record of 98. Turtle monitors have also observed five leatherback nests and four Kemp’s ridley nests. As the nests are beginning to hatch, thousands of hatchling sea turtles are making their way to the ocean, an uncertain trek that can be fraught with perils, including bright lights from beachfront properties, and trash and holes left by beachgoers.

Beachfront lighting is a concern because bright lights can discourage adult female sea turtles from nesting and confuse hatchlings, leading them away from the ocean and into streets or storm drains. By redirecting lights away from the beach and turning them off when not in use, beachfront residents can allow natural moonlight and starlight to guide nesting females and hatchlings away from danger. If you have questions about sea turtle-friendly lighting, call 386-238-4773.

Everyone can help save sea turtle lives by following these tips on the beach:

  • Leave sea turtles and their nests alone.
  • Avoid walking on the fragile dune system and native plants.
  • Minimize the use of lighting at night.
  • Do not use cellphones to light your way at night.
  • If lights are needed, use only red LED flashlights, which are less visible to turtle eyes.
  • When leaving the beach, remove obstacles by flattening sandcastles, filling in holes, and taking chairs and equipment with you.
  • Dispose of trash and recyclables in proper receptacles.
  • Do not use fireworks, which are prohibited on Volusia County beaches.

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 and quietly enjoy this special experience. If a turtle appears to be in immediate danger, notify a lifeguard or Beach Safety officer or call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-3922. At night, call the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office at 386-248-1777, ext. 3.

-Pat Kuehn


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