Sea Turtle Season
Sea Turtle Nesting Season Rules – To comply with regulations that protect the turtles, beach driving and lighting rules are in effect May 1 to October 31. Vehicular traffic on the beach is only allowed from 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and all beachfront properties are required to reduce the impact of interior and exterior lighting which may impact nesting sea turtles. Sea Turtle Nesting Season, Volunteer Opportunities and Share the Beach.
If You See a Turtle in Distress
If you find a sick / injured / dead sea turtle do not put them back into the water as they may need medical attention. Please call:
Sheriff's Office: (904) 824-8304
SJC Habitat Conservation: (904) 209-3740
FL Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission's 24-hour Wildlife Alert Number: 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922)
Check out our Share the Beach brochure (26MB). St. Johns County's guide to sharing and protecting the beaches.
Meet the Sea Turtles
Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) The most common sea turtle species in the southeastern United States, with the east coast of Florida being a very active breeding area. Loggerheads are easily identified by their log-shaped heads, which often measure around 10 inches. Their powerful jaw muscles aid them in crushing their food. Length: 38 - 45 inches, Weight: 250 - 400 lbs, Distribution: Subtropical areas, all oceans, Diet: Mollusks and crabs. ESA Status: Threatened.
Green (Chelonia mydas) Green turtles are not actually green. Their name refers to the color of their body fat. Young turtles eat a wide variety of foods, but the diet changes as they reach adulthood. As adults, green sea turtles are exclusively herbivores, or plant eaters. They eat algae and sea grass which turns their body fat green. Their heads are smaller than other sea turtle species, and the ends of their lower jaws are serrated. They have become endangered in Florida through centuries of being hunted for their meat and eggs. Length: 25 - 43 inches, Weight: 250 - 400 lbs, Distribution: Tropical and subtropical, Diet: Sea grasses and algae. ESA Status: Endangered.
Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) Leatherback turtles are the largest of all marine reptiles and are the only sea turtles without hard shells. Their black and white shells lack scales and are covered instead with a rubbery skin, distinguished by seven longitudinal keels or ridges. The leatherback unlike other species, can regulate it’s body temperature, enabling it to dive deeper and to migrate thousands of miles. Length: 60 - 100 inches, Weight: 710 -1300 lbs, Distribution: Nest in tropics, can wander to sub-Artic waters, Diet: Jellyfish. ESA Status: Endangered.
Kemp's Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) The most endangered of all the sea turtles. The species was named after Richard Kemp, who helped discover them. These turtles come ashore in daylight and nest in groups. The are among the smallest sea turtles, with broadly ovalshaped shells, usually olive gray in color. Length: 23 - 26 inches, Weight: Up to 100 lbs, Distribution: Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic, Diet: Crabs and mollusks. ESA Status: Endangered.
Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) Hawksbill turtles are named for their distinct hawk-like beaks. The thick overlapping scales of their shells were once sought after for jewelry, tortoiseshell combs, and other ornaments. Sadly, this demand has brought the species very near to extinction. Length: 28 - 36 inches, Weight: 80 - 140 lbs, Diet: Invertebrates, vegetation and sponges. ESA Status: Endangered.