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The beach environment

Sea Turtle going back into the ocean
A leatherback sea turtle returns to the ocean after laying eggs on the beach. (Photo by Cathy Thompson)

The beaches also are home to hundreds of fascinating plant and animal species. Some animals, such as the loggerhead sea turtle and the piping plover, are threatened with extinction. As a result, they are protected by state and federal laws. To preserve this beautiful natural resource for future generations of beachgoers, all of us must work together to care for and protect this fragile beach ecosystem.

From May 1 through Oct. 31, Volusia beaches host an unusual marine visitor -- the sea turtle. These magnificent animals emerge from the surf at night to lay their eggs in nests dug into the dry sand, then return to the sea. Two months later, about a hundred baby turtles or hatchlings emerge from each of these nests and crawl to the ocean. This amazing cycle of Mother Nature is thousands of years old.

Volusia County has taken several steps to protect these gentle creatures. Beach driving and parking are regulated. Vehicles are not allowed west (landward) of the dune conservation zone where sea turtle nests are most common. Night driving and lighting from beachfront properties is restricted because the mother turtles and tiny hatchlings are confused by bright lights.

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