Sea Turtle Season on Florida's Space Coast
Florida’s Space Coast is the top place for sea turtle nesting in North America, representing 90% of eggs laid in the US. The main three turtles that come to our beaches are the loggerhead, green, and leatherback.
In fact, 25-35% of all loggerhead and green sea turtle nests in the US are in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge (ACNWR.) This 20.5 mile long stretch of beach has limited population density compared to the rest of the county, which provides ideal conditions for the 15,000 to 20,000 nests found here annually. This equates to approximately 1.5 to 2 million hatchlings, however, only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings survive to reproductive age (20-25 years.)
Up in Canaveral National Seashore, loggerhead's lay 3,000-5,000 nests per year. Green's lay 200-6,000 nests per year. Leatherbacks deposit up to 34 nests per year within the park boundary. The rare Kemp’s ridley has even been spotted nesting here. Sea Turtles can also be found nesting up in Cocoa Beach and along the Indian River Lagoon.
Experts from UCF Marine Turtle Research Group, Sea Turtle Preservation Society, Brevard Zoo Sea Turtle Healing Center, and Sea Turtle Conservancy may be available for interview upon request.
- Nesting season begins May 1, and hatchling season runs through October 31.
- Leatherbacks have been seen nesting as early as the end of February in Florida and the beginning of March near the Space Coast.
- Sea Turtle Walks are typically during Nesting Season between May and July.
- Remember to remove all trash and beach chairs, knock down sandcastles, and fill in holes before leaving the beach.
- Turn off, shield, or redirect lights visible from the beach. Lights disorient hatchling sea turtles and discourage nesting females from coming onto the beach to lay their eggs.
- Do not disturb nesting turtles, nests, or hatchlings. Sea turtles are protected under Florida and Federal Laws. Photography and video is also prohibited.
- If you find a live or dead sea turtle stranded, hatchlings, exposed nests, or wish to report anyone harassing a sea turtle or disturbing a nest:
Please visit https://seaturtlespacecoast.org/emergency-information/ for appropriate steps and contact information.
Sea Turtle Walks:
There is no guarantee guests will see nesting or hatching turtles, as that’s up to Mother Nature. These educational programs are conducted under a state permit and should not be attempted without a state permitted guide. Flashlights, filming and photography are not permitted. Walks will have limited space available.
- Guests must make reservations ahead of time. Please visit website for cost.
- Several nights a week during May, June and July at three different South Brevard locations
- The night begins with a presentation about sea turtles that nest in the area, the threats they encounter, and what we can do to help.
- If a scout spots a nesting loggerhead, the group is led to the location and allowed to observe while the turtle is laying her eggs.
- Offered in June and July
- 9:00 pm – 1:00 am depending on when a Loggerhead sea turtle is found nesting, lasts 3 hours. You should be able to walk up to a half a mile to 3 miles on the beach.
- Walks begin with an educational program about Florida's sea turtles and sea turtle nesting on the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.
- All turtle walks at the Barrier Island Center will be booked online. Reservations start May 1 and cost a fee. Minimum age 7 years old.
- Turtle walks hosted by the Sea Turtle Conservancy require reservations booked online. They are limited to 20 people per night and costs $15 per person paid in advance.
- Reservations are required by calling the State Park at (772) 388-2750 from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm starting on May 15 for June programs and June 15 for July programs.
- Programs are $10 donation per person. They are conducted by State Park Rangers, and take place Fridays through Tuesdays in June and July.
Excerpts from VisitSpaceCoast.com