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.