Beach Furniture & Sea Turtle Protection
The federal Endangered Species Act lists all five species of sea turtles in Florida as either endangered or threatened. In addition, sea turtles are protected by Florida Statute 370.12, the Marine Turtle Protection Act. Anyone found harassing a sea turtle or interfering with the nesting process faces criminal and civil penalties.
One of the hazards nesting sea turtles face is beach furniture. It can block the path of a nesting turtle or trap nesting turtles or hatchlings that lack the ability to maneuver easily on land.
Remove furniture from the beach nightly
At night, furniture should be completely removed from the beach and stored behind the primary dune. Please remember, heavy equipment is not allowed on the beach during nesting season. When possible, all furniture should be moved by hand.
Place furniture properly
No furniture should be placed on the beach until a nesting survey has been completed by a Marine Turtle Permit Holder, who will identify and mark nests. Place furniture at least 5 feet from any marked nest. Furniture should not be placed on salt-resistant vegetation or on the dunes.
Stack and arrange furniture
Marine turtles prefer to nest on the mid to upper beach, protecting their nest from the high tide. Furniture that is left on the beach at night can prevent nesting turtles from reaching the upper beach (See Figure 1). If furniture cannot be removed at night, it should be stacked to minimize interference with nesting or hatchling sea turtles (See Figure 2.) Arrange the stacked furniture with the shortest edge facing the shoreline.
Use an umbrella holder or sleeve
To the degree possible, avoid burying umbrella poles during sea turtle nesting season. Either anchor an umbrella holder or sleeve before the nesting season to use throughout the summer or use umbrellas that clamp directly to the furniture.
If you see someone disturbing a sea turtle nest or see a dead, injured or harassed sea turtle, please call Turtle Time at 239-481-5566 or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC.
Information provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. For more information see myfwc.com or turtletime.org