Sea turtle habitat

sea turtle on beach heading back to ocean

All of the world’s sea turtles are designated as either endangered or threatened and are protected by local, state, federal and international laws. This listing means that the sea turtle populations are not growing and may be nearing extinction.

Sea turtles spend most of their life in the ocean. Female sea turtles will emerge from the water and crawl up onto sandy beaches to lay eggs in May through October each year.

Nesting sea turtles on Florida beaches include four species:

                   (Click on the turtle name for more information)      Green Sea Turtle and Loggerheads photos
 

     

    
                 Green Sea Turtle                            Loggerheads
 Leatherbacks and Kemp's Ridleys photograph                                
  
                  Leatherbacks                                Kemp's Ridleys
 

Sea turtles emerge from the surf at night and crawl up the beach toward the dunes to dig a deep hole in the dry sand to lay their eggs. The eggs are then coveredsea turtle eggs with sand and the adult turtle returns to the sea. An average nest contains 100 eggs! One female will lay three to five nests each nesting season.

About two months later, hatchlings (baby turtles), emerge from the nests and crawl to the ocean on their own. This amazing life cycle has occurred for thousands of years. By protecting sea turtles during this important part of their life, people will continue to observe these magnificent creatures visiting the beaches each summer and throughout their ocean habitats.

Unfortunately, many factors threaten sea turtles both during their nesting cycle and while in the water. Beach equipment left out at night and even curious people getting too close can also deter a turtle from nesting at any given location. On developed beaches everywhere, females attempting to lay their eggs encounter human made obstacles such as brightly lit beaches and hard structures such as seawalls and walkovers. Sea turtles have been killed as a result of being mislead by bright artificial lights which can disorient them while out of the water.  In many cases,  they find their way onto streets, private property and even into swimming pools! In the water, commercial fishing fleets often inadvertently catch sea turtles which often results in either killing or injuring them.

Water pollution and marine debris also threatens their habitat. All too frequently, sea turtles and other marine life mistake floating plastic garbage for food or they can get tangled in floating trash. Once ingested, they feel full and may decline eating and starve to death.  If they continue to eat plastics, their digestive organs become impacted with trash which they cannot digest.  You can help reduce impacts to marine wildlife by eating seafood sold by companies which use sea turtle protection gear and follow environmentally responsible fishing practices and by disposing of your trash properly.

General Sea turtle informational links

http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/SeaTurtles/seaturtle-info.htm

http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/reptiles-and-amphibians/reptiles/turtles/sea-turtles/

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

Jennifer Winters
HCP Program Manager
jwinters@volusia.org
386-238-4668

Becki O'Keefe
Sea Turtle Program
Field Manager
bokeefe@volusia.org
386-238-4716

Christina Phillips
Sea Turtle Lighting Specialist
csphillips@volusia.org
386-238-4773

Toll free landlines
when calling from:

West Volusia
386-736-5927

Daytona Beach
386-254-4612

New Smyrna Beach
386-423-3303
 

For stranded sea turtles during business hours call Beach Safety and option 0 for operator:
386-239-6414

For stranded sea turtles during nights and weekends call Sheriff's dispatch and option 1 for operator:
386-248-1777

For any other stranding call FWC:
1-888-404-3922