MOTE'S SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION & RESEARCH PROGRAM
Thousands of sea turtles nest (lay eggs) each year on southwest Florida beaches. Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium scientists study and tag these endangered and threatened species to help protect their future on our changing planet. Learn more about Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program here.
WEEKLY SEA TURTLE NEST COUNTS
Visit every week beginning May 1 to see preliminary counts of new sea turtle nests on Longboat Key through Venice, Florida. A final count will be posted after nesting season is complete on Oct. 31 and data have been reviewed thoroughly.
HOW TO HELP SEA TURTLES
Tips for turtle-friendly boating, beach lighting & more
During nesting season, it is important to keep local waters and beaches sea-turtle friendly. Sea turtles are swimming just offshore to mate before the females come ashore to nest, juvenile turtles are feeding along the Gulf Coast, and by early summer the first hatchlings will venture into Gulf waters. On the nesting beaches, light from waterfront properties can disorient nesting female turtles and their young, which emerge at night and use dim natural light to find the sea. Also, beach furniture, trashb and other obstacles can impede sea turtles and their young. Mote encourages coastal residents and visitors to follow the turtle-friendly tips below during nesting season, May 1 - Oct. 31. Please also consult all applicable laws and ordinances that may be in your area. Consult FWC's website for information about ordinances that may apply to you.
On the shore
- If you encounter a nesting turtle or hatchlings, remain quiet and observe from a distance.
- Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October.
- Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water.
- Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water.
- Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles.
- Use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
- Encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.
- Use fireworks on the beach.
On the water
- Follow Coast Guard-approved safe boating guidelines and use vigilance to avoid striking sea turtles and other large marine life.
- Be sure to stow trash and line when under way. Marine debris that accidentally blows overboard or out of a truck can become ingested by or entangled around marine life.
- Wear polarized sunglasses to better see marine life in your path.
If you see a sick, injured or stranded sea turtle in Sarasota or Manatee county waters, contact Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program at 888-345-2335. Outside of Sarasota or Manatee counties, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
If you suspect that someone is tampering with a sea turtle nest, harassing a sea turtle or has possession of a sea turtle or any of its parts, please call FWC, call your local sheriff’s department and/or call Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program at 941-388-4331.If you find sea turtle hatchlings that are not on the beach or are headed away from the ocean, call Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program for instructions. Do not put hatchlings in water or take them into air conditioning. Hatchlings heading towards the ocean should be left alone. Sea turtles, sea turtle eggs and nesting marking materials are protected under federal law and any harassment or interference with a sea turtle, living or dead, is subject to penalty.
Mote's sea turtle activities are conducted under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine Turtle Permits 155, 216, 027, 054, 070, 048 and 028.