SEA TURTLE NESTING

To report a sick, injured or dead Sea Turtle,
please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) at 888-404-3922

SEA TURTLE NESTING SEASON

Islamorada is fortunate to have active sea turtle nests every year and we are committed to protecting the nesting turtles, turtle nests and the fragile hatchlings. Owners of property adjacent to ‘Sea Turtle Nesting Areas’ have certain responsibilities addressed later on this page and adjacent property owners must adhere to the Islamorada Code of Ordinances to aid in sea turtle nesting protection, but everyone can help to protect sea turtles during the nesting season.

Sea turtle nesting may occur on any sandy beach in the Florida Keys but occurs in Islamorada mainly between mile markers 72 and 83, primarily on the Atlantic shoreline. The female turtles come ashore between dusk and dawn, dig a hole in the sand and lay about 100 eggs and then cover the nest with sand. The female turtles return to the ocean and the eggs hatch roughly two months later. The nesting season in the Florida Keys can start as early as March and can run into November. Islamorada’s Code of Ordinances defines the sea turtle nesting season as April 15th to October 31st of each year.

It is vitally important that we safely share our beaches with these fascinating and endangered animals. Here are some of the ways you can help protect sea turtles during the nesting season:

Never approach or take flash photos of sea turtles. Lights and noise can hinder the turtles’ ability to nest or find their way back to the sea. Never try to handle a nesting turtle and do not shine a flash light on a turtle.

Remove your kayaks, beach chairs, umbrellas, other outdoor furniture and items from the beach nightly. These items may block or entrap sea turtles.

Keep oceans, bays and rivers pollution-free. Take a trash bag with you when you go the beach and remove any trash you see.
 
Do not allow pets to roam loose and unsupervised and do not feed racoons or other wild animals. Village Code Section 31-1586

Do not drive on a beach or have a campfire on a beach.

Report sick, injured or dead sea turtles.
If you find a sick, injured or dead sea turtle please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Call FWC 1-888-404-3922 and ask the dispatcher to contact the stranding network.

Report turtle tracks and possible sea turtle nests.
If you find turtle tracks on your beach, please do not disturb them. Tracks provide important information about nests and hatching events. Please call Sandi at Save a Turtle, Inc., a non-profit organization, at 305-766-3714 to report a possible sea turtle nest and to request a volunteer to survey your property.



OWNERS OF PROPERTIES ADJACENT TO SEA TURTLE NESTING AREAS

Map of Upper Matecumbe Key Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches (pdf)
Map of Lower Matecumbe Key Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches (pdf)

Listed below are SOME of the sea turtle nesting protection regulations in the Village Code that are important for owners of property adjacent to ‘Sea Turtle Nesting Areas’. Owners should become familiar with all the regulations addressing SEA TURTLE NESTING PROTECTION in Chapter 30, Article VII, Division 3 of the Village Code. Violations of the Islamorada Code of Ordinances are subject to prosecution.

If you are not sure if your beach is a ‘Sea Turtle Nesting Area’ or if you have any questions about sea turtle protection regulations, please call the Village’s Environmental Resources Manager, Peter Frezza, at 305-664-6427.

Storage or placement of any material that has the potential to impede movement of hatchlings or adults between ocean and nesting areas or that may cover nesting sites is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, trash and debris, mulch and landscaping materials, vehicles and boats. Village Code Section 30-1582(c)

Beach chairs, umbrellas, other outdoor furniture, kayaks and other items must be removed from the beach nightly if turtle nesting activities have been reported. These items may block or entrap sea turtles. Village Code Section 30-1582(e)

Artificial lighting must not be visible from the beach. Artificial lighting has been found to prevent adult turtles from coming ashore to nest and disorient hatchling turtles causing them to crawl landward instead of towards the ocean. We need to prevent the incidents of sea turtle hatchlings that are killed as they cross US 1 crawling toward artificial lighting. The Village Code includes design measures to be followed to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of lighting. Turn outside lights off at night – especially those seen from the beach. Drapes and other window treatments should be closed at night if interior lights can be seen from the beach. Village Code Section 30-1583

Vehicles are prohibited. Village Code Section 30-1582(a)
 
Beach cleaning vehicles must comply with the standards set forth in the Village Code Section 30-1585.

If you find it necessary to rake your beach, a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is required. Please call 305-289-7070 for more information.

Do not place sand, boulders, and landscaping materials or operate vehicles within 100 feet of the high water line. A permit for these activities is required from both the Village and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Violators are subject to fines and imprisonment. Please call FDEP at 305-289-7070 or the Village’s Environmental Resources Manager, Peter Frezza, at 305-664-6427 for more information.

Bonfires and campfires are prohibited. Village Code Section 30-1582(b)
 
Do not allow pets to roam loose and unsupervised and do not feed racoons or other wild animals. Village Code Section 31-1586



LEARN MORE
about turtle species, sea turtle protection, nesting information, and lighting fixture using the links below to external websites:

Background information on sea turtles
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/ 
 
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Sea Turtle Program
https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/sea-turtle/
 
Protection laws and regulations protecting sea turtles
http://www.myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/sea-turtles/protection/
 
Lighting information and fixtures/resources
https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/sea-turtle/lighting/
 
SAVE-A-TURTLE of the Florida Keys, Inc.
a local organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of rare and endangered marine turtles
https://www.save-a-turtle.org/ 
https://www.facebook.com/Save-a-Turtle-org-203986362958007/