2024 Sea Turtle Nesting Season Begins May 1

Sea turtle nesting season begins May 1, and St. Johns County officials are asking residents, visitors, and businesses to help protect the turtles’ natural habitat by observing all nesting season laws and regulations. The beaches of St. Johns County are home to several species of endangered or threatened sea turtles.

From May 1 to Oct. 31, St. Johns County staff will close vehicular beach access gates at 7:30 p.m. and reopen them at 8 a.m. to allow nesting sea turtles to have a safe beach throughout the night.

Beach visitors can have a positive impact on nesting sea turtles by taking the following actions while enjoying the beach:

  • Do not use fireworks and open fires; they are illegal.
  • Remove ruts and sand castles at the end of your beach day.
  • Do not leave beach chairs or canopies on the beach overnight.
  • Flashlights are strongly discouraged as they can harm sea turtles.
  • Avoid entering dunes and conservation zones (15 feet seaward of the dune line).
  • Do not release balloons, which can fall into the ocean and harm marine life; their release is also illegal.
  • Never approach sea turtles emerging from or returning to the sea. Nesting sea turtles are vulnerable, timid, and can be easily frightened away.

Never push an injured animal back into the ocean. If you encounter an injured, sick, or deceased sea turtle, please call the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency dispatch line at (904) 824-8304. Leave only your footprints, providing the turtles with a safe and clean habitat to nest and hatch.

The continued participation of our residents and volunteers in protecting the turtles’ nesting habitat has borne fruit: 2023 saw triple-digit green sea turtle nests along St. Johns County beaches for the first time since we began collecting data. Together, we can help all of our nesting turtle species rebound even further.

St. Johns County is grateful to volunteers, residents, visitors, and businesses for supporting habitat conservation efforts and keeping our beaches beautiful. For more information on those efforts and how you can help, call St. Johns County Habitat Conservation and Beach Management at (904) 209-3740, visit https://www.sjcfl.us/departments/habitat-conservation/ or www.RecycleStJohns.com, sign up for The Curbside Times newsletter, and consider attending the Turtletown USA Beach Cleanup on Saturday, May 11.

For more general information on St. Johns County Beach Services, use the SJC Connect app, which is replacing the older Reach the Beach app as the go-to source for beach updates. You can also sign up for the monthly Beach Brief newsletter to have the latest beach news sent straight to your inbox.