Sea turtle nesting season is May 1 through October 31 each year.
Loggerheads are the most common sea turtle to nest in Pinellas County, and females generally nest from early May through August. The eggs in each nest will typically incubate for 50 to 60 days before hatching.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium monitors the beaches from Clearwater Beach through Indian Shores. Sand to Sea Inc. monitors the beaches from Redington Shores through Treasure Island, and Sea Turtle Trackers monitors the beaches of St Pete Beach, Shell Key and Outback Key. Staff members conduct early-morning patrols to locate new nesting sites. Citizens should not pick up hatchlings heading toward the water, shine lights or use photo equipment with a flash. Hatchlings use starlight and moonlight reflecting off the water to find their way to the ocean, and if they become misled by artificial light, they can become disoriented and die.
Besides checking the beaches every morning for signs of new nests, nesting staff mark the nests and rope them off to avoid human disturbance. As endangered and threatened species, Kemp’s Ridley and Loggerhead turtles are protected under state and federal law, and disturbing their nests is illegal. To report the disturbance of a sea turtle nest, or report the sightings of turtles or hatchlings lost, stranded or wandering in the street, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement at 1-888-404-3922, or *FWC from a cell phone.
Most of Pinellas County’s beach communities have ordinances prohibiting lighting that casts glare onto the beach during turtle nesting season, which ends on October 31.
During nesting season, residents and beach visitors should do the following:
- Turn off outside lights, draw drapes and avoid using flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
- Remove obstacles such as sand castles or sand pits that may make it too difficult for hatchlings to make their way to the shoreline.
- Keep the beach clean. Eliminate trash items that may entangle baby hatchlings and adult turtles.
- Do not approach or harass adult turtles as they make their way back to sea.
- If residents spot turtle tracks or a possible nest, and it does not appear to be protected by stakes or ribbon, call 1-888-404-3922.
By obeying the law and following some simple guidelines, residents and visitors can greatly improve the chances of sea turtle survival.
Please do not disturb sea turtle nests and be mindful to remove all lawn chairs and beach toys from the beach in the evenings so the turtles have easy access from and to the water.
To report nesting, injured or dead sea turtles, please contact the Clearwater Marine Aquarium at 888-239-9414
For complete information on Sea Turtle Nesting visit the Pinellas County Environmental website and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium website.
Every year a beach lighting survey is done by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium at night and a list is generated by property addresses where lights facing the beach are potentially a problem to sea turtles.
The Town of Indian Shores has recently updated its turtle ordinance and will be starting a "Leave No Trace" campaign soon. Once the ordinance is codified, it will be available on the Municode under Sea Turtle Protection
For turtle friendly beach lighting, keep it:
LOW – mount the fixture as low to the ground as possible to avoid being seen from the beach and use the lowest amount of light needed.
SHIELDED – Use fixtures that direct light down to the ground and shield the bulb, lamp or glowing lens from the beach.
LONG – Sea turtles are less disturbed by long wavelength light sources (ambers and reds) in the appropriate lighting fixtures.
Information on Sea Turtles, Nesting, Beach Lighting Ordinances and Beach Cleaning Practices can be found at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
More information on Wildlife Lighting Concerns at Florida Fish and Wildlife Lighting Information
Sea Turtle Conservancy is on a mission to educate homeowners on proper practices of friendly lighting and fixtures to use near sea turtle nesting beaches. Florida is home to 90% of all sea turtle nesting in the United States. With all the tourists, businesses, and coastal residents sharing the beaches with the sea turtles our community must make sure our properties lights (inside and out) are sea turtle friendly to ensure these hatchlings are given a chance of survival. Hatchlings have an instinct that leads them in the brightest direction, which is toward the ocean on a dark beach. LIGHTS OUT!
Additional online information about beach lighting and sea turtles can be found at the Sea Turtle Conservancy
Please contact the Building Department for more information, 727-517-3940