Turtle Nests for Miles and Miles

Staff examine nest with red light while sea turtle lays eggs in dark

Here is Palm Beach County, we take our sea turtles seriously. And rightly so. Nearly 90% of sea turtle nesting in the U.S. happens in Florida and the majority of that is in Palm Beach County. According to the Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management website, we have “more sea turtle nests per mile than anywhere else in the United States”.

With about 2,000,000 babies hatching on our beaches each year, it is important to protect these endangered creatures and their mamas. One way the town of Palm Beach does that is Lights Out for Sea Turtles. A town ordinance requires that oceanfront property owners ensure lights not be visible on the beach between March 1st and October 31st, the nesting season.

Artificial lighting can deter nesting females from making the arduous trek up the beach to lay their eggs. Lights also confuse the hatchlings on their way to the ocean. Sadly, this disorientation is credited as a major cause of the decline of the sea turtle population globally.

Although certain colors and types of lighting may be ok, the town’s motto is “When in doubt, turn it out.” Any questions? Contact the town’s Code Enforcement Specialist, Carla Marcote, at 561-227-7080 before turning on any lights.

For a real treat, take a guided nighttime sea turtle beach walk to witness one of these beautiful creatures nest. Palm Beach County offers this highly regulated (and popular) tour at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach and Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Juno Beach.

This author’s experience years ago at MacArthur Beach State Park is indelibly imprinted on the brain and the heart.

Staff check nesting sea turtle by Greg Lovett The Palm Beach Post courtesy Loggerhead Marine Life Center

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