Many of us think that 30A and the Emerald Coast is simply paradise on earth and our surroundings are natures treasures to us and our visitors. Treasures are different for all of us, and here on the Emerald Coast, we have many. One of our greatest treasures though, are the five species of sea turtles that visit our shores every year. During the months between May and October, our sugar sand beaches become the home and sanctuary to future baby sea turtles as well as the playground for millions of visitors. It’s important to remember we are sharing these beautiful shores with lots of wildlife and the impact we can make on their environment, just by visiting. 30A Beach Girls want our guests to enjoy their stay and to explore our beautiful surroundings but to also be aware of the wildlife and their habitats and the protections they need.
Here’s more information on sea turtle nests that’s important to keep in mind when visiting our shore:
During nesting season, you may see turtle tracks and nests on the sand. #luckyvisitor. These nests are filled with eggs and covered with sand to provide safety while they develop into baby turtles and until it’s time for them to make their way to the sea. There are local conservation groups that check daily for turtle tracks in the sand and to cordon off any nests created for their protection. Then they monitor the nests to make sure they haven’t been disturbed and for the emergence of the hatchlings, weeks and months later.
For your protection and theirs, please know there are federal and state laws that protect these endangered species and any violation of them can result in a $100,000 fine and imprisonment. Below are the laws and ways to help protect our Gulf Coast treasures:
Under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 and Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act (379.2431), it is illegal to:
Take possession, disturb, mutilate, destroy, sell, transfer, molest or harass marine turtles, their nests, or eggs. This also includes their habitat.
Here’s how you can help protect our sea turtle treasures when visiting our shores:
Clean, Dark, Flat: #CLEANDARKFLAT
· Prevent all lights from illuminating the beach. Turn off balcony and porch lights and draw blinds each night.
· Use only flashlights with red film covers (available at area businesses and the Visitors Center).
· Look but don’t touch any sea turtles, eggs, or their nests. All are violations of Federal and State laws.
· Don’t leave holes – fill in any holes you dig including holes from poles and beach umbrellas.
· Leave only footprints in the sand. Please remove all items and belongings when leaving the beach.
So, when you visit 30A or anywhere on the Emerald Coast during the months of May through October and see an area on the sand that has been cordoned off with a sign posted about a turtle nest, now you will know what that means. You will also know what to do and how you can help the hatchlings have a safe journey to the sea.
If you have any questions or find a sea turtle, please call the sea turtle hotline: 850-865-4503 or visit https://southwaltonturtlewatch.org
We hope you enjoy your time on the coast and 30A Beach Girls are here to help you make wonderful memories. Let us know if you have any questions or need recommendations; our text line is 850-660-7911. See you at the beach!