When visiting or staying on St. George Island, you can help the sea turtles who may also be in the area by being aware of nests as you enjoy the beaches and shorelines. Protect the turtles by turning off your outside lights at night and closing any window treatments during the nesting season so that hatchlings will not be attracted to the light and head in the wrong direction rather than following the moonlight to the water. Sea turtles need dark, quiet beaches to successfully nest, and many females return to the beaches where they were born to lay their eggs. This is why it’s important to keep places such as St. George Island unspoiled for future generations of turtles.
Franklin County “Leave No Trace” Ordinance” (Ordinance 14-1) was implemented in 2014 and was designed to keep our beaches clean and safe for both people, wildlife and to protect the endangered sea turtles.
• All personal items (including umbrellas, coolers, tents and canopy frames, picnic tables, volleyball nets, canoes, floats, sailboards, kites, jet skis, sailboats, kayaks, towels, chairs, coolers, etc.) must be removed from the beach between 9PM and 7AM. All unattended items may be removed and destroyed.
• Unattended items may be stored on the beach overnight if they are moved close to, but not on the toe of the dune or native vegetation. Items stored in this location will not be considered discarded. Items must be stored in a neat an orderly manner.
• Fill in holes and level sandcastles that might trap adult or baby sea turtles before leaving the beach each day.
Here are a few tips to help protect the nesting sea turtles:
• Keep children and pets away from designated nest sites on the beach.
• Avoid bonfires and fireworks at night, which can prevent the turtles from coming ashore.
• Turn off all lights that are visible on the beach from the house or condo and close your blinds: sea turtles are drawn to light which may cause them to become disoriented.
• Do not use flash photography or flashlights on the beach at night.
• If you encounter a turtle remain quiet, still and at a distance. Human disturbance may prevent her from nesting successfully.
• If you have the opportunity to see a hatch take place, please do not help the babies to the water. Baby sea turtles must get oriented to their future-nesting beach.
• It is against the law to touch or disturb nesting sea turtles, hatchlings, or their nests. Sea turtles are protected by both the Federal Endangered Species Act and the Florida Marine Protection Act.
• If you see an injured turtle, please contact the Florida Wildlife Commission at 888-404-3922 or *FWC from your cell phone.
Nesting Turtles and the St. George Island Turtle Volunteers: The St. George Island Turtle volunteers walk the beaches each morning at dawn to look for new nests. The nests are clearly marked with a “Do Not Disturb” sign and the volunteers check them each morning for signs of disturbance, hatchlings, or disorientation of hatchlings.
For more information of Sea Turtles visit these sites: