Travelers from around the world find many unique nature and wildlife viewing opportunities in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach, and one of the most unique is the chance to encounter sea turtles. There are over 15,000 species of marine wildlife that call the gulf waters home, and this includes five of the world's seven-known sea turtle species. 

Timing is Everything

The general consensus is that Sea Turtle Nesting Season in southwest Florida runs March through October, though some organizations put the dates as late April/May through October.

This mean, of course, that those loggerheads, greens, Kemp's ridleys, leatherbacks, and hawksbill turtles are using the same Gulf beaches to nest and lay their eggs that we use for recreation and relaxation. Just a reminder that it's good to keep an eye out: your next summer beach trip could include an amazing experience few people get to witness.

If you're lucky enough to encounter a sea turtle, hatching, or even a nest, it's very important to appreciate the experience without disrupting the delicate life cycle of these elusive creatures.  

Fascinating Sea Turtle Facts

  • Between 50 and 200 eggs can be deposited in one nesting.Sea turtle swimming near a coral reef
  • 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 hatchlings. Generally, if the sand is warmer during the 2-month month incubation, the hatchlings will be female. If the sand is cooler, the hatchlings will be male.  
  • 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

  • Clean up after yourself:
    Remove all items including furniture, towels, and toys from the beach at night.
  • Smooth over the sand:
    Fill in any holes you've made, and any you see. Hatchlings can easily get trapped in shallow holes in the sand.
  • Keep the dark, dark:
    Avoid shining flashlights or light from vehicles or buildings onto the beach as this can frighten away nesting females and confuse hatchlings trying to get to the water.
  • Do Not Disturb:
    View nesting or hatching turtles from a fair distance. If you're lucky enough to see a laying turtle or a hatchling begin its journey, enjoy the moment, but remain quiet and calm.
  • Never touch wildlife:
    Don’t “help” a turtle or a hatchling get to where you think they’re going: always observe from at least 30 feet away.

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. 

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