Sea Turtle Conservation

Florida is home to thousands of sea turtles. Of the seven species of sea turtles worldwide, five can be found nesting in Florida: loggerhead, green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley and leatherback. Together with our partners, we work year-round to protect sea turtles and our environment.

research specialist
  • We take our responsibility to protect wildlife, marine life and the environment very seriously.
  • We take proactive measures to identify, remove and rehabilitate all sea turtles and marine life found within our canals through our St. Lucie Marine Research Station.
  • We partner with local conservation groups to protect fish and turtles.
  • We are always evaluating our wildlife protection program to better protect animals and the environment.

Since 2016, 98 turtles would have died without the intervention available through our current program.

We protect sea turtles year-round, assist research institutions and conduct turtle walks for sea turtle conservation awareness.

Since 1976, we have conducted over 18,000 turtle health checks at the St. Lucie Marine Research Station.

sea turtle
sea turtle
sea turtle

How can you help turtles?

  • Never approach or harass sea turtles that are nesting or emerging from the sea
  • Do not disturb or remove eggs from sea turtle nests
  • Be careful while boating to avoid collisions with turtles
  • Never throw trash in the water or on the beach
  • Learn how to keep sea turtles in the dark
  • If you find an injured or dead turtle in Florida, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Wildlife Alert Hotline at (888) 404-FWCC or (888) 404-3922

Turtle Hatchlings

Here is a map showing turtle nesting areas. If you see a turtle hatchling that is wandering away from the ocean:

  • Gently redirect it to the ocean and allow the turtle to crawl into the ocean on its own.
  • If you find a lethargic sea turtle, contact the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission at (888) 404-3922.

Contact your local government for more information on lighting ordinances.

Download map

sea turtle
sea turtle

Turtle Walks

Due to COVID-19, the 2021 turtle walk program has been postponed to summer 2022. Please check back for more up-to-date information.

Sea Turtle Species 

Loggerhead

Sea Turtles - Loggerhead Turtle
  • The loggerhead turtle is the most common nesting turtle in Florida, but it is still considered a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
  • The loggerhead has powerful jaws to crush the clams, crabs and other hard-shelled invertebrate animals on which it feeds.
  • Tens of thousands of loggerhead nests are recorded in Florida annually.

Leatherback

Sea Turtles - Leatherback Turtle
  • The endangered leatherback turtle is the largest and most active of the sea turtles.
  • Up to eight feet in length, these huge turtles have a rubbery, dark shell marked by seven narrow ridges that extend the length of the back.
  • Leatherbacks feed on jellyfish and soft-bodied animals that would appear to provide very little nutrition for such huge animals.
  • Between 700 to more than 1,700 leatherback nests are recorded in Florida each year.

Green

Sea Turtles - Green Turtle
  • The green turtle, named for the greenish color of its body fat, is listed as endangered in Florida. Roughly 4,500 to 15,000 nests are recorded in Florida each year.
  • Green turtles have been hunted for centuries for their meat and gelatinous "calipee" that is made into soup.
  • Green turtles are the only sea turtles that eat plants. They graze on the vast beds of seagrasses found throughout the tropics.

Kemp’s Ridley Turtle

Sea Turtles - Kemp's Ridley Turtle
  • The rarest and smallest of all the sea turtles, the endangered Kemp's ridley feeds on crabs and shrimp in the coastal waters off of Florida.
  • Most Kemp's ridleys nest on a single stretch of beach on the east coast of Mexico.
  • The Kemp's ridley is only one of two species of sea turtles that nest in arribadas, a term used to describe large groups of females gathering and nesting all at the same

Hawksbill

Sea Turtles - Hawksbill Turtle
  • A relatively small turtle, the endangered hawksbill has been hunted to the brink of extinction for its beautiful shell.
  • Once relatively common in Florida, these turtles now nest here rarely.
  • Hawksbills feed on sponges and other invertebrates and tend to nest on small isolated beaches.

Want to know more?

Learn more about the turtles found in our area and what you can do help protect them.