Sea turtle nesting season is now underway, and St. Johns County officials are asking residents, visitors and businesses to help protect the turtles’ natural habitat by observing nesting season laws and regulations.
Between now and Oct. 31, vehicular traffic on local beaches 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.
Officials note that beach visitors can have a positive impact on nesting sea turtles by observing the following guidelines:
Refrain from using fireworks and open fires
Remove ruts and fill in holes left by vehicles and sand castle building
Remove all chairs, umbrellas or canopies from the beach before dark. Items left behind are subject to removal by county staff.
When using a flashlight on the beach, use a flashlight filter. Free filters can be found at the Vilano walkover, the St. Johns County Pier and at street ends in St. Augustine Beach.
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
Nesting sea turtles are timid, officials say, and they can be easily frightened away. Beach goers are also instructed never to push an injured animal back into the ocean. If an injured, sick, or deceased sea turtle is encountered, visitors should call the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency dispatch line at (904) 824-8304.
For more information, please contact St. Johns County Habitat Conservation and Beach Management at 904.209.3740 or visit www.sjcfl.us/hcp.