Sea Turtle Nesting Season Runs March 1 to October 31 in Florida
Cape Canaveral is home to an abundance of wildlife, including three native species of sea turtles: the loggerhead, the leatherback and the green turtle. All three of these species are endangered or threatened, which is why we ask residents and visitors to take special precautions during sea turtle nesting season (March 1 to October 31).
Laws Surrounding Sea Turtles
Endangered and threatened species are protected by various Federal, State and Local laws. For example, Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act (https://bit.ly/2VocTtl) and Florida Administrative Code 68E-1 (https://www.flrules.org/gateway/chapterhome.asp?chapter=68E-1) make it illegal to possess turtle eggs, disrupt their nests or disturb the turtles themselves, among other things.
Lights Out for Turtles!
The City of Cape Canaveral has its own specific ordinances
(https://library.municode.com/fl/cape_canaveral/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=SPAGEOR_CH14AN_ARTIIISETU) that pertain to lighting and its effects on turtle hatchlings. Artificial light sources can disorient hatchlings, resulting in them crawling away from the ocean rather than towards it, and this can greatly impact their chances of survival.
Because of this, beach-facing lights must be turned off (or curtains must be drawn) between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. every day from May 1 to October 31. Keep in mind that even the lights we don’t think of — like those over the stove or from a television — can disorient baby turtles.
Outdoor security lights can also cause hatchlings to crawl in the wrong direction. If you wish to use outside lighting during sea turtle nesting season, you can do so by investing in turtle-friendly bulbs or fixtures (https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/sea-turtle/lighting). These are inexpensive and readily available at most local hardware stores.
Ways You Can Help Sea Turtles Year-Round
- Level sandcastles and fill in holes before you head home.
- Take all your trash from the beach before you leave.
- Skip the straw at restaurants or bars.
- Pack groceries in reusable bags, and bypass plastic carryout bags whenever possible.
- Invest in a reusable water bottle.
- Do not deliberately release balloons in coastal regions.
Facts About Sea Turtles
Below you’ll find just a handful of facts about these amazing creatures.
- Females return to the beach where they hatched to lay their eggs. That means Cape Canaveral has sea turtles that have been nesting on our beaches for generations.
- Due to predators and factors such as light disorientation, only about one in 1,000 to one in 10,000 sea turtle hatchlings survive to adulthood.
- Sea turtles have been around for about 110 million years, since the time of the dinosaurs!
- It takes sea turtles 20 to 30 years to reach sexual maturity. By those calculations, some nesting females manage to find their way back to the beach in Cape Canaveral even though they haven’t been here in decades.
- Baby turtles live in mats of sargassum — or seaweed — during their developmental years. This helps hide them from predators, attracts food sources and may even act as a blanket that keeps them snug.
Sea turtles are fascinating creatures, and we’re lucky they call Cape Canaveral home!
Other Sea Turtle Groups
Report Injured or Endangered Wildlife 24 Hours
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) (myfwc.com)
Additional contacts and information
Report Unmarked Sea Turtle Nests
- FWC at (888) 404-3922
- Sea Turtle Preservation Society at (321) 206-0646
- (321) 676-1701