Sea Turtle Nesting Season in South Florida

Author: Rich Barnhart

Author: Rich Barnhart

Help Us Protect Our Sea Turtles

Updated March 2022

Every Spring, like clockwork, several species of sea turtles return to South Florida to share our beautiful beaches. If you’ve spent any time here during the spring and summer months then you have certainly seen the special fences that warn us of these very vulnerable nesting zones. Please do your part and keep your distance from these fenced off areas. Each of these nests contains on average 100 eggs, which sounds like a lot, but when we consider that only one in a thousand turtles will reach adulthood, each and every egg is vitally important.

Sea Turtle Nest in Florida
Baby sea turtles leaving their nest shortly after hatching

Officially turtle season in South Florida starts March 1st and runs through October 31st. Sea turtle nests can be seen all throughout South Florida with Palm Beach County boasting more sea turtle nests per mile (~2,000,000 hatchlings) than anywhere in the United States. The Leatherbacks are the first turtles to arrive in March, followed by our most common species the Loggerhead Turtle. Loggerheads start making their way to our beaches during the month of April. Then the Green Sea Turtles start arriving in May and June. Ridley and Hawksbill turtles have also been known to visit our beaches in much smaller numbers. The sea turtle nesting season continues through the end of the September with peak season for Loggerheads being late June into early July.

Sea Turtle Hatchlings
If they are lucky the hatchlings will make their way to the ocean where they have a one in a thousand chance of reaching adulthood

2021 Florida Sea Turtle Nesting Survey Highlights:

  • Consistent with 2019 and 2020 results loggerhead turtles had another successful nesting season in 2021 with more than 49,000 nests documented on 27 of Florida’s core index beaches. 
  • In 2014 leatherback turtle nest numbers reached a peak of 657 nests, followed by a steep decline from 2015 to 2017. Fortunately they have rebounded quickly with a promising increase over the last 4 years and 435 nests counted in 2021.
  • Since standardized nest counts began in 1989 green turtle nest counts have increased eighty-fold. In 2019, Green turtle nest counts on the 27 core index beaches reached a new record high with almost 41,000 nests recorded. Since green turtles are on a 2 year reproductive cycle trends are tracked every two years. 2021 numbers are down to 24,000 from the record high in 2019, but still well above average.
  • View more survey results here:

FUN FACT: Loggerhead Sea Turtles are the most common to nest on South Florida beaches with almost 66,000 nests counted during their peak in the 2016 season.

FUN FAMILY TIP: Would you like to learn more about South Florida’s sea turtle population? Please visit the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, located in the heart of Florida’s sea turtle nesting zone. Gumbo Limbo, a local non-profit organization, monitors more than 600 nests a year and releases over 6,000 stranded hatchlings each season.

Your Sea Turtle
Young sea turtle chilling on a coral reef

Adopt a sea turtle and learn more about local conservation efforts at the National Save the Turtle Foundation in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

Learn more about sea turtles at Wikipedia:

Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management (see current nesting totals):

Blog Author:

Rich Barnhart

Rich is the broker and owner of By The Sea Realty and a frequent contributor to the company's real estate blog.

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