Sea Turtles

How Can I Help

There are many ways in which you can help and reduce humans’ impact on sea turtles’ life and habitat. Volunteering and considering a research career are important, but remember that small gestures can have an immediate impact:

  • Dispose of all trash in proper trash or recycling bins. Sea turtles and many other marine animals mistakenly eat trash (such as plastic bags, candy wrappers, bottle caps, balloons, and cigarette butts) causing injury, illness and/or death.

  • Reduce the use of plastic bags by bringing your own bags when you shop. You’ll reduce the risk of these bags finding their way to the ocean and help reduce the energy needed to produce new bags.

  • Reduce the use of balloons on or near beaches. Pop balloons and dispose of them in a trash bin. Do not allow balloons to float up into the sky, they will eventually pop and fall into the ocean.

  • Obey boat safety laws and speed limits. Propeller strikes to sea turtles can be very harmful despite their hard shell.

  • Encourage legislation to protect sea turtles and their habitat. Much can be done by simply doing some research and educating yourself and others on the issues.

  • Learn about your local beachfront lighting ordinances and try to reduce light pollution during the nesting and hatching season (March-October). [Link]

  • When you purchase seafood, know where it comes from and how it is caught. The method of collection can harm turtles or damage their environment. Understanding the seafood you eat can help ensure the protection of marine life, as well as a sustainable supply of seafood for future generations. [Link]

  • If you encounter a sea turtle in the water, keep your distance from the animal; it is illegal to touch, harass or interact with sea turtles in the wild.

    Kemp's Ridley
    Photo by Dr. Michael Schmale

  • If you find an injured or dead turtle floating or on the beach, please contact the local stranding network to report the animal:

    FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comm. (561)-575-5407

    FWC Law Enforcement 24 Hours (888)-404-3922 [Link]

    • There are several laboratories that rescue and rehabilitate injured turtles: Mote Marine Laboratory, Marine Mammal Center, Clear Water Marine Aquarium, Sea World, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center; Miami-Dade rescue facilities include: the Miami Seaquarium, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, NOAA SEFSC.

    • Be sure to provide the rescue facility detailed information on where you saw the animal (latitude/longitude if possible), the date and time of observation and any information on the condition of the animal (did it appear wounded? Was it able to dive? Was there fishing gear visible anywhere on the turtle, etc.)?

    • While waiting for rescue to come, protect the animal from the sun, keeping it cool with a damp towel or water; for hatchlings fresh water is preferred.

  • If you encounter a live nesting sea turtle or hatchling on the beach:

    • At night during the nesting season (March – October), do not walk on the beach with a flashlight or shine a light in the sea turtle’s face. The light may cause the female to abort the nesting process, or other sea turtles nearby may be discouraged from nesting if there are lights on the beach. Excess light on the beach may also disorient hatchlings emerging from the nest, preventing them from successfully reaching the water.

    • Do not take pictures using the camera’s flash. This high-intensity light will disturb sea turtles, especially hatchlings.

    • Stay clear and out of sight of the turtle at all times, otherwise you may scare her back into the sea. At no time should you touch the turtle.

    • It is illegal to handle the eggs or put any foreign objects into the nest.

    • Do not handle or ride the sea turtle. It is illegal and you may injure the turtle or cause her to leave without finishing nesting.

    • Do not disturb tracks left by turtles. Researchers use the tracks to identify the type of turtles that nested and to find and mark the nests.

    • Please report any signs of hatchling disorientation to the local stranding authorities (signs may include hatchling tracks headed inland vs. away from shore; live or dead hatchlings found inland of the beach, direct observations of hatchlings crawling in the wrong direction or towards excessive beachfront lighting). Please note the location and time of observation.

      FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comm. (561)-575-5407 

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science campus

Support the Rosenstiel School and its programs by making a donation today.

Support our Programs