Sea Turtle Nesting Season in South Florida

Picture of Author: Rich Barnhart

Author: Rich Barnhart

Green and Loggerhead Sea Turtles Have Record Years

Updated April 2024

Review 2023 Survey Highlights | Turtle Walks and Releases

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

2023 Florida Sea Turtle Nesting Survey Highlights:

2023 was a great year for sea turtles in Florida with loggerhead and green sea turtle nests both experiencing record years. Here are the highlights from the 2023 Florida Index Nesting Beach Survey

  • Loggerhead turtles had a record nesting season with almost 71,000 nests documented on Florida’s 27 core index beaches bringing loggerhead nest counts to levels more commonly observed in the 1990s.
  • In 2023, green turtle nest counts on the 27 core index beaches reached more than 61,000 nests recorded. This is more than double the number of nests from last season. Green turtle nest counts have increased 120-fold since standardized nest counts began in 1989.
  • Leatherback nests were down slightly to 486 total nests. Like our green sea turtles, the leatherback nests have increased exponentially since 1989.
  • View more survey results here: http://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/nesting/beach-survey-totals/

FUN FACT: Loggerhead Sea Turtles are the most common to nest on South Florida beaches with over 71,000 nests counted during their record season in 2023.

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

Turtle Walks and Hatchling Releases

Both of these programs sell out, so get your tickets early at https://www.myboca.us/2133/Turtle-Walks-Hatchling-Releases

2024 Turtle Walk Dates & Time

Participants will learn about the life cycle, behaviors, and threats to the three species of protected sea turtles that nest in South Florida during a presentation in Gumbo Limbo’s classroom and on the beach spotting sea turtles.

  • Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, May 28- July 3,
  • 8:45 pm-12:00 am (or after a nesting turtle is seen, whichever happens first)

Hatchling Release Dates & Times

Join the staff at Gumbo Limbo as they release rescued hatchlings back to the ocean under the cover of darkness. This program begins with a presentation in the classroom where participants learn about the life cycles, behaviors, and threats to the sea turtles that nest in South Florida. Then you head to the beach, where staff place the hatchlings on the wet sand by the water, and you’ll watch as the tiny turtles make their way down to the waves and head off into the surf.

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday Evenings
  • July 15 – August 8, from 8:00 pm- 9:30 pm
  • August 12 – August 29, from 7:30 pm- 9:00 pm

Turtle Walks and Hatchling Releases
https://www.myboca.us/2133/Turtle-Walks-Hatchling-Releases

Florida Facilities Housing Sea Turtles
https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/sea-turtle/facilities/

Adopt a sea turtle and learn more about local conservation efforts at the National Save the Turtle Foundation in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
http://www.savetheseaturtle.org

Learn more about sea turtles at Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_turtle

Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management (see current nesting totals):
http://www.broward.org/NaturalResources/BeachAndMarine/SeaTurtles/Pages/default.aspx

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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