Nesting sea turtles arrive on local beaches
It’s that time of year when Florida’s beaches become a sandy birthing center for endangered sea turtles trying to eke out future survival.
Nesting season for green sea turtles generally runs from June through September along the state’s east coast. Leatherbacks, the state’s other protected species, nest from March to July and loggerheads from April to September.
Most greens will wait for nightfall to emerge from the ocean to come on shore, often nesting on beaches they’ve visited before. They will lay roughly 128 eggs three or more times during a season.
Last year, 409 green turtle nests were reported in Broward, 49 in Miami-Dade and 7,725 in Palm Beach, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission statistics released in February.
Their enemies: illegal harvesting, habitat encroachment, fishing net entrapment and ingested plastic.
Lights from streets and homes can also distract newly hatched turtles away from the ocean. Most beachfront cities restrict lighting during turtle season.
The Florida phenomenon fascinates locals who typically fill up open spots at nighttime turtle walks, turtle hatchling releases and lectures.
Here’s a sampling of local events. Sea turtle sightings are not guaranteed and refunds are unavailable.
What: Turtle Walks by Moonlight on the Beach!
When: Specific days from June 8 to 29 and July 5 to 27, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Where: Museum of Discovery and Science, 401 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale. Cost: $40 per person age 9 and up non museum members.
A presentation takes place at the museum before participants head to Fort Lauderdale Beach with a guide. Contact: 954-467-6637; https://mods.org/signature-events.
What: Night Marine Sea Turtle Walk: Dr. Von D. MizellEula Johnson State Park
When: June 6-30, July 7-28, 9-11:30 p.m.
Where: 6503 N. Ocean Drive, Dania Beach. Meets at the Osprey Pavilion 8:30-9 p.m. Entry cost: $2 to $6 per car. No kids under age 6. Registration opened May 1.
The program opens with a video presentation, Q&A session and the turtle walk along the beach.
Contact: 954-924-3859. www.floridastateparks.org/events/ night-marine-sea-turtle-walk-18.
What: Turtle Walk & Hatchling Release Programs for loggerheads.
When: June 1 through July 6, 8:45 p.m. to midnight or beyond; Aug. 14-31, 7:30-9 p.m.
Where: Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, 1801 N. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton. Cost: $20 per person ages 8 and above. Classroom instruction starts off the evening followed by beach viewing if a staffer spots a nest.
What: Turtle Walks at MacBeach
When: Monday, Wednesday and Fridays June 2 to July 15, 8 to 11:30 p.m. or later.
Where: MacArthur Beach State Park, 10900 Jack Nicklaus Drive, North Palm Beach. Cost: $20 per person age 10 and up.
Contact: 561-776-7449; macarthurbeach.org/special-events.
What: Guided Turtle Walk
When: June 1 through July 29, 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Where: Loggerhead Marinelife Center, 14200 U.S. Highway 1, Juno Beach.
Cost: $40 per person age 10 and up.
An informative program kicks off the evening with groups led to the beach once a loggerhead is spotted.
Contact: 561-627-8280; https://marinelife.org/eco-experiences.