As You Head Back to the Beach: Remember It’s Sea Turtles Nesting Season
As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and people head to the coast for the Memorial Day weekend, St. Lucie County wants to remind reminds residents, businesses and visitors to help keep local beaches sea-turtle friendly, especially during the summer nesting season.
Hutchinson Island’s 21 miles of coastline is designated as critical nesting ground for endangered and threatened sea turtle populations, including Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback turtles.
Improper beachfront lighting endangers nesting sea turtles and hatchlings. St. Lucie County enforces sea turtle lighting codes during sea turtle nesting season, which runs from March 1 – Nov. 15.
As beachgoers return to the sand, please remember to keep our shoreline litter free. Beach furniture should not be left on the beach overnight because of the dangers of entanglement. Sand castles should be knocked down to prevent sea turtle entrapment or injury. Walton Rocks Beach is the only dog-approved beach in St. Lucie County and dogs should be closely monitored to not dig up sea turtle nests. Additionally, if dogs (or children) do dig at the beach, please make sure the holes are filled in.
During nesting season, exterior light sources directly visible from the beach or illuminating areas seaward of the primary dune must be redirected, shielded or turned off between sunset and sunrise during nesting season. To prevent interior lights from illuminating the beach, window treatments are required on all windows of single and multi-story structures if these windows are within the line of sight of the beach. Blackout draperies or shade screens are preferred. Alternatively, approved window tint may be applied to beachfront windows. It is encouraged that people turn out all unnecessary interior lights during nesting season and close curtains and blinds at night. Flashlights and bonfires are discouraged during nesting season.
If anyone observes sea turtle nest poaching or the harassment of sea turtles, please call 911 or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC.
For additional information on sea turtle friendly beaches, please contact Natural Resources Extension Agent Ken Gioeli at 772-462-1660. For Code Compliance questions, please contact Building and Code Regulations Manager Monica Graziani at 772-462-1553.
Additional sea turtle conservation information is available online: http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/stlucieco/2020/03/12/sea-turtle-2020.