Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach attracts travelers from around the world seeking unique nature and wildlife viewing opportunities. Our location along the Gulf of Mexico means there are many chances to encounter a few of the over 15,000 species of marine wildlife that call the gulf waters home, including five of the world's seven-known sea turtle species.
From May through October, the loggerhead, green, Kemp's ridley, leatherback, and hawksbill turtles use Gulf beaches to nest and lay their eggs. In many cases, this ancient ritual takes place on the very same stretches of sand many of us use for recreation and relaxation. This means, if you're in southwest Florida during the nesting season, you might experience one of Mother Nature's wonders. It's very important to appreciate without disrupting the delicate life cycle of these majestic and elusive creatures.
Fascinating Sea Turtle Facts
- Between 50 and 200 eggs can be deposited in one nesting.
- A single turtle can repeat this process every 2 weeks, or 5–8 times, in a single season.
- Turtles return to the region of their own birth to nest, sometimes within a mile’s distance of where they hatched.
- A satellite-tracked leatherback completed a 12,774 mile trans-Pacific migration.
- Sand temperature determines the sex of the hatchling during incubations of about 2 months.
- Hatchlings use the faint light of the horizon to find the water.
- 7 out of 10 hatchlings reach water. 1 in 1,000 survive to sexual maturity.
- The only sea turtle that nests during the day is the Kemp's ridley; most do their nesting at night.
As endangered or threatened, all sea turtles are protected under state and federal law from being possessed, disturbed or harassed. The same goes for their nests and eggs. Since most turtle nesting and hatching activities take place at night, ordinances prohibit artificial light from reaching the beach.
How to Avoid Injuring Turtles or Disrupting the Nesting or Hatching Process
- Remove all items including furniture, towels, and toys from the beach at night.
- Discard all trash and leave nothing but footprints behind.
- Fill in any holes you've made, and any you see. Hatchlings can easily get trapped in shallow holes in the sand.
- Avoid shining flashlights or light from vehicles or buildings onto the beach.
- View nesting or hatching turtles from a fair distance. Enjoy the moment, but remain quiet and calm.
- Do not disturb nests, especially those marked by research and volunteer organizations. These sites are monitored until the eggs hatch.
Sea turtles are amazing and fragile animals that we share our beaches and marine environment with here in southwest Florida. It’s our hope that, like us, you may be fortunate enough to see one in the wild, and that we all continue working together to ensure their long-term survival.