BELOW THE WATER: SEA TURTLES
It is against the law to disturb a nesting turtle or to steal turtle eggs.
The beaches along Florida’s east coast are the largest nesting site for Loggerhead Sea Turtles in the western hemisphere. Between March and October, female loggerhead sea turtles – as they have for millions of years – crawl ashore under the cover of darkness to dig nests in the sand and lay their eggs. About 50 days later, the hatchlings emerge and scurry into the ocean.
Because Broward County’s coastline is so developed, marine biologists with Nova University, working under a contract with Broward County’s Environmental Protection Department, will often relocate nests to a safer, more desolate area of the beach. In some cases, the eggs are moved to Hillsboro Beach. In other instances, nests are re-located to nearby areas. With the start of every sea turtle nesting season, Town residents and businesses are asked to take steps to help protect threatened loggerheads.
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Shield Bright Lights
Bright lights along the beach not only deter adult loggerheads from nesting, but can cause serious problems when tiny hatchlings emerge from the nests. Very often the hatchlings become disoriented and travel in the wrong direction.
If you have any questions about lighting or how to properly shield lights from sea turtles, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 561-575-5407. A Town ordinance requires beach lights to be shielded during turtle season.
How to Help / Key Tips to Remember
Nesting Sea Turtles
Do your best to stay away from crawling or nesting sea turtles. Nesting is a critical stage in the sea turtle’s life cycle. Please leave them undisturbed.
Please do not take flash photos of the turtle. Please do not shine a flashlight on or around the turtle. If a turtle comes out of the ocean near you, please sit quietly and do not move or talk until it has finished her egg laying and has returned to the ocean.
Sea Turtle Hatchlings
Report all stranded (dead, injured or apparently healthy) turtles to the Sea Turtle Hotline by calling 954-328-0580, especially if it has not moved for 30 minutes.
If you see a sea turtle hatching crawling towards the road or a parking lot, call the Broward Sea Turtle Hotline at 954-328-0580 as soon as possible.A qualified sea turtle expert will be sent to the area to handle the incident. If you can’t remember the hotline number, pick up the hatchling and place it in a dry bucket or a bucket filled with about one inch of sand.
If the turtle has just hatched and has not traveled far (more than 100 feet) from the nest, it will still be strong enough to start it’s swim to the Gulf Stream. If it is dark, place it on the sand just above the surf line and let it crawl towards the ocean. Do not place the hatchling directly in the water. Do not place hatchlings in the water during daylight.
Hatchlings Going the Wrong Way
If the hatchling or hatchlings have traveled for some time in the wrong direction into parking lots, streets, pools, etc — or quite a distance on the beach or if it is day time — place them in a dry bucket or a bucket filled with one inch of sand. After collecting all hatchlings and placing them safely in the bucket, call the Sea Turtle Hotline 954-328-0580. Someone will collect them from you and take them to the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, where they will be fed and rested and released in a few days.