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Everything You Need to Know About Sea Turtle Season in Sarasota, Florida

Jennifer Thompson

As the sands of Sarasota's beaches warm under the spring sun, another annual event is underway: sea turtle nesting season. From May 1st to October 15th, these ancient mariners return to the shores of Sarasota County to continue a cycle that has endured for millennia. Here's everything you need to know about this fascinating phenomenon and how beachfront homeowners can prepare their houses for sea turtle season.

The First Nests of 2024

The 2024 sea turtle nesting season officially kicked off with the first documented nest on April 28th, laid by a loggerhead sea turtle on Venice Beach in South Sarasota County. This event marks the beginning of an important period for sea turtle conservation efforts in the area.

Monitoring and Conservation

Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program (STCRP) leads the charge in monitoring and protecting sea turtle nests along the Sarasota coastline. From April 15th to October 31st, STCRP's dedicated team of staff, interns, and volunteers patrol a staggering 35 miles of beaches daily, marking each nest with yellow stakes and flagging tape while collecting valuable data to aid in conservation efforts.

Increasing Nest Numbers

In recent years, nest numbers have seen a promising increase on local beaches, with 4,284 nests reported in 2023 from Longboat Key to Venice. This positive trend reflects ongoing efforts to protect and preserve these magnificent creatures and their habitats.

How Beachfront Homeowners Can Help

Beachfront homeowners play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and success of sea turtle nesting season. Here are some essential tips for preparing your house for sea turtle season:

1. Minimize Light Pollution: Shield or turn off outdoor lights visible from the beach from May through October. Bright lights can disorient nesting females and hatchlings, leading them away from the sea.

2. Remove Obstructions: Stack beach furniture at the dune line or, ideally, remove it from the beach altogether. This prevents obstacles that could impede sea turtles and their young.

3. Fill in Holes: Fill in any holes dug on the beach, as these can trap hatchlings on their way to the water.

4. Observe Quiet Hours: If you encounter a nesting turtle or hatchlings, remain quiet and observe from a distance. Loud noises and disturbances can disrupt their nesting and hatching process.

Protecting Sea Turtles: A Collective Effort

During sea turtle nesting season, it's essential for everyone to do their part in protecting these remarkable creatures. Whether you're a beachfront homeowner, a visitor, or a local resident, practicing sea turtle-friendly behaviors ensures the safety and conservation of these vital marine species.

By following simple guidelines and making small adjustments, we can all contribute to the preservation of sea turtles and the ecological balance of our coastal ecosystems.

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