Every year the east coast of Florida prepares and awaits for the arrival of sea turtles to migrate their way to the beaches. Depending upon the area and the county, approximately 2,000 sea turtles find their way to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to lay their eggs. This time of year is known as Sea Turtle Nesting Season and starts in March and runs through Mid-November. Remember, sea turtles are a protected species under both federal and state laws and it is illegal to disturb a nest, a female making a nest and the hatchlings.
Early in the season, adult female turtles find their way to the shores where they dig a nest and lay their eggs. Once all of the eggs have been laid, the female covers the nest and then heads back into the Atlantic Ocean. Later in the season the hatchling make their way to the surface of the beach and scurry down to the water’s edge so they can make their way through the waves and into the ocean.
So which type of sea turtles use the beaches of Florida’s east coast as their nesting location? Below is a list of those turtles.
The green turtle is named for its greenish colored body fat. This type of turtle is only three to four feet long and adult females weigh approximately 300 pounds. Green turtles nest in Florida from May through September.
The Hawksbill has been hunted by humans primarily so the shell can be used in jewelry, putting it on international endangered species lists as critical. The Hawksbill nests primarily, but is not limited to, in Palm Beach County throughout the nesting season.
The Kemp’s Ridley is the smallest of sea turtles which nest in Florida weighing less than 100 pounds and measuring 24 to 30 inches long. The Kemp’s Ridley nests throughout the season.
The leatherback turtle is the largest sea turtle (700-1500 pounds) to nest in Florida and is named for its leather looking shell. The leatherback generally nests between March and July.
The loggerhead turtle is the most common sea turtle to nest in Florida that is named for its large head. The loggerhead turtle can weigh between 200 and 350 pounds as an adult. Nesting times for the loggerhead turtle is between April and September.
Remember, it is illegal to disturb a sea turtle while nesting and its nest. If you come across a sea turtle nesting and/or a nest while on the beach, leave it alone and enjoy these amazing creatures from a distance.
For more information about the different sea turtles which lie nests on the shores of Vero Beach visit MyFWC.com — the official website for the Florida Fish and Wildlife.