Pensacola Magazine

Sea Turtle Nesting Season Underway, Help Keep Beaches Sea Turtle-Friendly

Press release provided by Escambia County

Escambia County reminds beachgoers to “leave no trace” and turn out the lights this spring and summer, keeping Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key safe and sea turtle-friendly. May is the beginning of sea turtle nesting season in Florida, with thousands of endangered turtles laying their eggs on Gulf Coast and Atlantic beaches until the season ends October 31.

Through the Leave No Trace ordinance, it is illegal to leave personal property on any portion of the sandy gulf beach from sunset until sunrise. Protect nesting sea turtles by removing all personal belongings from the beach each night, including chairs, canopies, umbrellas, sports equipment and toys. Always dispose of trash properly and securely stow trash and other debris when boating
In our waterways, both sea turtles and manatees are at risk of death and injury from boat strikes and careless boaters. The loss of even one adult female turtle means the loss of thousands of eggs in the course of her expected lifetime. Manatees are protected by the Endangered Species Act and are found in limited numbers across the state. These slow-moving herbivores are especially vulnerable to boat strikes, as they often rest at the surface.

How You Can Help Protect Escambia County’s Marine Life:

  • Keep a bow look-out when boating and obey posted wake zones. Stick to navigational channels within the intracoastal waterway and slow down when approaching docks, ramps and beaches.
  • Properly stow or dispose of trash and other debris.

How You Can Protect Nesting Sea Turtles:

  • Lights Out! Female turtles prefer dark, quiet beaches for nesting. Leave the flashlights and cell phones at home or use a red flashlight when on the beach at night.
  • Close blinds and curtains in beachfront homes when interior lights are on at night.
  • Do not disturb nesting females or hatchlings by using flashlights, flash photography or lanterns at night.
  • Click here to view complete sea turtle lighting regulations for Pensacola Beach.

“Leave No Trace” on the Beach

  • Fill in any holes in the sand and knock down sand sculptures at day’s end to remove obstacles blocking sea turtles’ nesting activities.
  • Remain at a distance from nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.
  • Properly dispose of trash and discarded fishing gear. Sea turtles can become entangled in old fishing nets and lines or ingest plastic bags and wrappers, mistaking them for jellyfish.
  • Remove personal belongings from the beach at the end of each day. Items such as umbrellas, tents, beach toys and chairs left unattended on Pensacola Beach overnight will be removed and disposed of by cleaning crews.
  • Through the Leave No Trace ordinance adopted in August 2015 by the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners, it is illegal to leave personal property on any portion of the sandy gulf beach daily from sunset until sunrise.
  • Click here to view the Leave No Trace ordinance.

Sea Turtle Quick Facts

  • Escambia County beaches are home to four of the six species of sea turtles found in U.S. waters: loggerhead, green, leatherback and Kemp’s ridley.
  • All species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered and protected by the Endangered Species Act.
  • Only an estimated 1 in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings survive to reach adulthood.

Dead or injured sea turtles and marine life should be reported to Escambia County Marine Resources at 850- 426-1257 or the FWC Wildlife Alert line at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). Manatee sightings should be reported to Rick O’Connor, Florida SeaGrant Agent, at [email protected]. For more information about protecting Escambia County’s Marine Resources visit