Sea turtle nesting season begins May 1, and St. Johns County officials are asking residents, visitors and businesses to help protect natural habitat by observing all nesting season laws and regulations.
Between May 1 and Oct. 31, vehicular traffic on the beach is allowed between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. In addition, all beachfront properties are required to reduce their impact by eliminating interior and exterior lights, which may disrupt nesting sea turtles. Volleyball court lights at St. Johns County Pier Park will turn on at sunset and turn off at 9 p.m. during this time.
According to the county, beach visitors can also have a positive impact on nesting sea turtles by taking the following actions while enjoying the beach:
• Refrain from using fireworks and open fires.
• Remove ruts and fill in holes left by vehicles and sandcastle building.
• Remove all chairs, umbrellas or canopies from the beach before dark. These items are subject to removal by County staff.
• Refrain from using flashlights, as they can harm sea turtles.
• Avoid entering sand dunes and conservation zones (15 feet seaward of the dune line).
• Refrain from using balloons, as they can fall into the ocean and harm marine life.
• Never approach sea turtles emerging from, or returning to the sea. According to the county, nesting sea turtles are vulnerable, timid and can be easily frightened away.
Per the county, one should never push an injured animal back into the ocean. If an injured, sick or deceased sea turtle is encountered, call the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency dispatch line at (904) 824-8304.
For more information, contact St. Johns County Habitat Conservation and Beach Management at (904) 209-3740 or visit www.sjcfl.us/hcp.