During sea turtle nesting season, The Emerald Coast CVB/Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council offers Nighttime Educational Beach Walks as part of an effort to protect the dwindling sea turtle populations. Whether you get the opportunity to see them on the Gulf Coast or Atlantic Coast, there’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Florida beaches are the No. 1 place for sea turtle nests in North America from May to October.
- Wildlife-protection regulations limit turtle walks to observing only loggerheads, as Greens and Leatherbacks are extremely endangered.
- Most walks consist of 20 – 40 people. All programs start with an information session or talk about the walk, during which program scouts are sent out to find nesting sea turtles to observe.
- You must be able to walk a mile or two on sand and may not be handicap accessible.
- Bring insect repellent a water bottle and patience. Because nesting habits are unpredictable, there’s no guarantee you’ll see a sea turtle.
- Most turtle walk tours don’t accept children under the age of eight though some accept children as young as six.
- Most Turtle walks are free while some charge as much as $20 per person. They fill up fast so be sure to book far in advance.
- The nesting process consists of the sea turtle digging a 1-2 foot deep hole that she will lay her eggs in, and then refilling the nest with sand before returning to the ocean. The whole process takes 30 to 60 minutes.
- Naturalists tell us there’s no way to predict which night will be good for turtle nests — there is no relationship between sea turtle nesting activity and the phase of the moon, the weather, or the tides.
- For more information on Emerald Coast Turtle Walks, visit the Emerald Coast CVB’s Facebook page.
One of the most beautiful and peaceful ocean dwellers has to be the sea turtle. The chance to see their ageless grace is often sought out by visitors and Florida natives alike. However, because they’re so endangered, getting a chance to see a sea turtle in their natural habitat is a memorable experience only few can reflect on.