South Walton’s sugar-white sand beaches are a big draw for visitors, but they’re also home to some of the area’s tiniest residents. During the months of May through October, endangered sea turtles build nests in that sand, and need the help and consideration of human beachgoers in order to thrive and survive.
The two most common species of turtles in South Walton are Green Sea Turtles and Loggerheads. In the late spring and early summer, female sea turtles that were born in South Walton return to build nests. Later in the summer and in the early fall, the turtle eggs in the nests begin to hatch, and the hatchlings use light reflected off the surf to guide them into the ocean. South Walton has a dedicated team to help identify and protect the turtles, but there are things that beachgoers can do to make sure their efforts are a success:
Prevent all lights from illuminating the beach – Turn off balcony and porch lights and draw blinds each night. Use only flashlights with red film covers (which are available at area businesses and the Visitor Information Center) as sea turtles become disoriented on their crawl back to the surf.
Look but don’t touch – Do not disturb or handle any sea turtles, their eggs or their nests. All are violations of both federal and state laws.
Don’t leave holes – Fill in any holes you dig including holes left from sticking poles and beach umbrellas into the sand. This will ensure others don’t get injured and that you don’t create obstacles for nesting sea turtles.
Keep the beach clean – Reduce litter by disposing of your trash properly and removing all personal items from the beach each night.
Visit South Walton is a proud sponsor of these efforts. To find out more, visit southwaltonturtlewatch.org.