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Stranding Investigations

Sea Turtle Protection Zone (STPZ)

Today's Research for Tomorrow's Oceans

Boaters: Protect Sea Turtles

Sea turtles are threatened and endangered species found year-round in southwest Florida waters. These amazing animals breed just offshore, and females crawl ashore to nest during our busy summer boating season in Sarasota County. These turtles are at risk of being accidentally struck, injured and even killed by boats.

The good news is, boaters can protect sea turtles by slowing down and using vigilance in key locations. Check out the voluntary Sea Turtle Protection Zone in Sarasota County below!

Sea Turtle Protection Zone

This voluntary Sea Turtle Protection Zone was mapped by Mote Marine Laboratory scientists who documented boat-strike hotspots in local waters.

Boaters, here’s how you can help turtles:

  • Go slow: Go as slow as safely possible in areas bounded by red lines—the voluntary Sea Turtle Protection Zone. Follow any posted speed-zone signs—it’s required by law.
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to see and avoid sea turtles in your path, and ask one of your passengers to be the designated wildlife spotter.
  • Report stranded sea turtles (as well as stranded marine mammals) in Sarasota & Manatee counties to Mote at 888-345-2335. Elsewhere in Florida, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: 888-404-3922.


Download a printable copy of the map with all guidelines included

The Science behind The Zone

Mote Marine Laboratory scientists analyzed more than a decade of data showing where boat-struck sea turtles were found stranded in local waters. The most severe stranding hotspots are the focus of the Sea Turtle Protection Zone. By going slow and following other guidelines in the Zone, you’re doing something amazing: turning science into protection for marine animals!