What should you do if you see a sea turtle on our sandy beaches at night?

Nest 8 was found by surveyors this morning and it provides an opportunity to mention what you should do if you see a sea turtle on our sandy beaches at night.

Sea turtles often emerge overnight to nest so we often don’t get to see them.  They need no assistance, in fact we should give them a clean, dark, flat beach and observe from a distance. They will choose where to nest, dig the egg chamber, deposit eggs, cover them, and return to the water.  They can and should do this all unassisted.  

Here in PCB we are fortunate to have volunteers that have been trained by FWC on how to handle a nesting turtle encounter. If you happen to see a sea turtle on our sandy beaches at night, please call Panama City Beach police non-emergency at 850-233-5000 and they will contact our PCB Turtle Watch volunteers for immediate response.

Now, take a look at Nest 8 (a loggerhead) found this morning by surveyors.  Your eyes may be drawn to her nice looking track on the right where she emerged from the water and crawled onto the beach.  See the pretty pattern of a smoothed area with comma patterns (from her flippers) on either side, that is what we are looking for as a sign that a sea turtle has been on the beach. 

Nest 8

Now look in the newly marked off area, we normally find a large mound of fluffy sand where she covered up her nest with lots of thrown sand before turning to go back to the water.  Then on the left is her track back to the water.  Notice anything about the nest area and the left track compared to the right track?  If you guessed Footprints you are correct!  There are footprints all in the nest mound area (before it was marked for protection) and in her track back to the water indicating she was followed too closely.  

Visitors let us know this morning as we were marking the nest that they observed, from their balcony, the sea turtle late last night being ‘pushed back’ to the water.  This wasn’t necessary and likely added stress to the loggerhead.  Fortunately her eggs are buried in the sand so they should be ok for incubating over the next two months.   

So, if you do see a sea turtle on our sandy beaches at night, please call non-emergency police and our volunteers will respond to ensure the turtle has a safe environment during her nesting process.

With that said….we now have 8 nests marked for protection, all laid by loggerheads so far.

P.S. Never push any sea turtle or marine mammal back in the water.  Notify *FWC as local responders should visit the animal to assess the situation.

Three nests and two nesting turtle encounters!

What an exciting week for our volunteers!  Our nest count increased from 4 to 7 this week with all 3 nests being laid within an 8 hour period.  One evening this week, volunteers were called to a nesting loggerhead arriving in time to see her finish nesting and return to the water.  As they were marking nest 5, they received a report of another nesting loggerhead nearby.  They arrived in time to see her cover her nest and return to the water; they marked nest 6 for protection. A couple hours later, nest 7 was found during morning survey and marked for protection by the volunteers as well!  What an exciting couple of hours for this group of volunteers! These activities is what they prepared for and their quick response helped ensure the nesting turtles were not disturbed and that all nests are safely marked on our beach.

The two loggerheads observed by our volunteers had no identification tags.  Under our permit issued by FWC, one of our surveyors installed passive identification tags so that any other organization encountering the turtle can report their whereabouts. Maybe they will return to our beach or a nearby beach in a few weeks as they can lay a nest every couple of weeks of the season.  We hope to see them both again!

We are one month into our nesting season (we survey for new nests May through mid-September).  We have 7 nests marked for protection, all laid by loggerheads.  Per the FWC permit we operate under, we don’t announce the nest locations or predicted hatch dates. So stay tuned in a couple months to our Facebook page and we’ll announce excavations when we have a nest that has hatched.

What should you do if you encounter a sea turtle at night on the beach? Avoid using any lights, keep your distance, stay out of her line of sight and call local non-emergency local police at 850-233-5000 so they can contact our volunteers. Sea turtles can be very sensitive to light and sound. The nesting female had to work hard to crawl onto the beach to nest considering she was designed for the water, so let’s do our part to not disturb her!  

All activities conducted in accordance to MTP-24-038.

Loggerhead returning to the water after nesting
Loggerhead returning to the water after nesting

Nesting Volunteers are Ready!

Who’s on call? Our 2024 Nesting Volunteers!!!!

Our nesting volunteers completed FWC and local field training to prepare for our 2024 Nesting sea turtle season. They have been assigned scheduled dates in which they will respond to any nesting sea turtles or nests that may be located along our beach. They will mark the nest in a manner that it will remain protected as the eggs incubate for approximately 60 days.

We are grateful for the commitment by our volunteers as we work on our beaches to protect our local sea turtle population.

We are not permitted to release the location of nests or predicted hatch dates. When we have a public excavation following a hatch, that will be announced on our Facebook page.

We are no longer accepting any applications for our 2024 volunteer season, if you are interested next season reach out to us around February.

First nest of 2024 PCB TW Season!

We are excited to announce we have located and marked for protection our first 2024 sea turtle nest on Panama City Beach!

Overnight May 13th, a Loggerhead, came ashore and nested 🐢

Loggerheads are the most common nesting sea turtle on PCB but we have hopes of receiving Green and Leatherback nests this season as well! We’re open to a Kemp’s Ridley nesting as well which would be a first for our program.

What should you do if you encounter a sea turtle at night on the beach? Avoid using any lights, keep your distance, stay out of her line of sight and call local non-emergency police at 850-233-5000 so they can contact our volunteers. Sea turtles can be very sensitive to light and sound. The nesting female had to work hard to crawl onto the beach to nest considering she was designed for the water, so let’s do our part to not disturb her! Our surveyors begin patrol just before sunrise looking for sea turtle crawls so if you see a nesting turtle or a crawl, please avoid the area so we have the best look possible to assess the crawl when our surveyors or volunteers arrive.

Having located our first nest, we can now congratulate Melissa Taylor. Melissa submitted our 2024 First Nest Prediction form and she predicted our first nest very closely in all categories for date, time, species and location! Thanks to everyone that participated in that fun game!

Per the FWC permit we operate under, we don’t announce the nest locations or predicted hatch dates. So stay tuned during the season here for our nesting and hatching progress. Public excavation events will be posted on Facebook as they are scheduled following a hatch.

Check out this great informational poster about Loggerheads care of Sea Turtle Conservancy

Nest 1 of 2024 Season

All activities performed under MTP-038.

c/o Sea Turtle Conservancy

2024 Sea Turtle Nesting Season has begun!

The day our surveyors and volunteers have been waiting for has come….May 1st….the start of our 2024 sea turtle nesting season here in Panama City Beach!

Our surveyors headed out this morning just before sunrise as they will do daily between now and mid September looking for signs of sea turtle nests.

As we anxiously await finding our first nest of the season, we thought it would be fun to have our followers predict the details of our first nest of the 2024 Season.

Use this form to submit your PCB TW first nest of 2024 Prediction! The winner will be selected from form submissions and will receive their choice of a PCB Turtle Watch merchandise item!

Stay tuned here or on Facebook for updates throughout the season🐢

Morning surveyors begin 2024 Sea Turtle Nesting patrol

Pre-season activities

We are eagerly awaiting the start of our local Sea Turtle Nesting season that begins May 1st on our beaches. In the meantime, our volunteers continue with education outreach opportunities.

We would like to once again thank Pompano Joe’s at Pier Park for their donation from the sale of their Turtle Brew and t-shirts. If you are in town, stop by to check out their specialty brew or pick up a t-shirt and our program will benefit from those purchases. Thank you Pompano Joe’s for your continued support of our program!

Pompano Joe’s Donation from Turtle Brew and T-shirt sales

Today, our volunteers setup an educational table at the April 20th Earth Day event in Panama City. Let’s remember every day, not just on Earth Day, to do what we can to protect our Mother Earth!

Display at Earth Day Celebration in Panama City

Next up, we plan to have several volunteers partner up with Gulf World Marine Institute on April 27th for their 3rd Annual “Making Turtle Tracks” (5K Fun Run/Walk), we hope you will join us for this great local event!

Our surveyors will then begin monitoring the beaches at sunrise beginning May 1st, if you see us out there, give us a wave!

We look forward to another great season, stay tuned here or on Facebook for more info as our season progresses.

2023 Season Summary

Our 2023 sea turtle season in PCB has come to a close. We’d like to thank all of our surveyors, volunteers, residents and visitors who played a role in the protection of the Loggerhead and Green sea turtles that we had on our beaches this summer.

While we had a record breaking number of green nests this year, our total hatchling production was down from last year primarily due to Hurricane Idalia’s visit to the Gulf leading to many of our nests receiving wash over and stopping the development of the eggs (or washing them out completely). We appreciate the help from our local police, code enforcement and our local lifeguards. We enjoyed the opportunity to share information about our program and sea turtles at local events, schools and excavations. We look forward to being ready to start our season again May 1, 2024!

Our 2023 nests are now found under History.

All work/photos conducted under MTP-038 and MTP-271

In Memory of Heather Bailey

2023 nesting green female, affectionately named Heather

PCB TW would like to give a special thanks to Jason Bailey (a Panama City resident) for making a generous donation to our program this year in memory of his late wife, Heather Bailey. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Heather during this difficult time. With this donation, we are honored to do what we can to educate PCB locals and visitors about sea turtle conservation and protection in Heather’s memory.

During our 2023 season, our volunteers had the chance to observe and tag a nesting green sea turtle. After having learned of Heather’s passing, we have given the name Heather to our only 2023 PCB tagged nesting female and we hope to see her again in future nesting seasons!

All work conducted under MTP-038.

Green hatchlings entering the Gulf at sunset the week we had an opportunity to host some of Heather’s family at some of our excavations

Hatching is winding down

We are reaching the end of our 2023 sea turtle nesting and hatching season. October 5th was a big morning for us as we found two green nests hatched! Nest 45 was located in the dunes and didn’t receive wash over so no surprise there with it hatching. Nest 44 was located mid beach and received wash over from Hurricane Idalia last month but still produced hatchlings! This was great to see after we have had numerous failed nests from wash over.

We’ll determine the success of each nest as we excavate nest 45 on Sunday Oct 8th and nest 44 on Monday Oct 9th. These may be the final successful hatches of the season. Will the results of these excavations help us cross the 2500+ hatchling mark for the season? Stay tuned to find out!

Following these excavations, we’ll have 4 nests remaining on the beach. We’ll give them a full 80 days from when they were laid for a chance to hatch but they may have stopped developing with the Hurricane Idalia wash over.

Photos and work conducted per MTP-038

Green hatchling heading to water from nest 45

Nest 44 with depression and hatchling tracks

Education Outreach

What else do our volunteers do when they aren’t on the beach protecting the sea turtles and nests? They spend time sharing information about our program, sea turtle species and ways we can all help protect them.

We appreciate the opportunity to recently visit Panama City Trilingual School to share this important information with them. The students were attentive and engaged as they listened to our volunteers and asked their questions.

Thank you to our volunteers for the many ways they contribute to our non-profit organization!

FWC MTP-038 allows for the possession of sea turtle specimens to use for educational purposes

Education Outreach Presentation

Students get a close look at our education outreach items