One of the more delightful aspects of visiting or living in Navarre Beach is sea turtle nesting season, which happens annually from May through October. Sea turtles love our beach for its lack of crowds and clutter, its wide-open spaces, and its soft white sands.
But perhaps the best thing about our beach for sea turtle nesting season is its lack of light pollution, especially when compared to other, busier destinations nearby. Light pollution has a negative effect on sea turtle hatchlings, disorienting them when they emerge from their nests. It actually causes them to head away from the Gulf of Mexico, instead of towards it.
We like to think that our sea turtles can actually relax during nesting season. Just as people do in Florida’s Most Relaxing Place! That’s why Navarre Beach does not offer night tours to visitors. However, careful and respectful beachgoers can experience the miracle of seeing baby sea turtles emerge from their nests and make their way to shore, as long as they follow these tips:
- Do not disturb nesting females or hatchlings with flashlights, flash photography or lanterns.
- At the end of a day on the beach, be sure to knock down any sand sculptures and fill in any holes in the sand.
- Keep pets away from the nests, as well as follow the Santa Rosa County ordinance that prohibits pets on the beaches.
- Remember to take chairs, umbrellas, toys and recreational equipment, bags and other possessions from the beach when you leave.
- 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. When fishing, avoid casting your line near a sea turtle.
- Turn off beachfront lights after dusk (also a Santa Rosa County ordinance).
- Close blinds and curtains in beachfront residences when interior lights are on at night.
- Shield exterior light fixtures so that the light is directed downward and away from the beach.
Can’t get enough of these lovely creatures? Learn all about them at our local refuge: The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. The facility’s main saltwater pool is home to Sweet Pea, a green sea turtle who was unable to be returned to the Gulf due to her injuries. Now she lives a healthy and happy life as our resident sea turtle ambassador, helping us teach people about how they can best protect sea turtles and their environment.
We’re proud that visitors and residents alike take extra measures to protect the four species of sea turtle that populate our shores — all of them listed as threatened or endangered, and protected by the Endangered Species Act. So thanks in advance for helping us keep Navarre Beach a friendly and nurturing environment for these beautiful creatures!