Escambia County reminds beachgoers to “leave no trace” and turn out the lights this spring and summer, keeping Pensacola Beach safe and sea turtle-friendly. May is the beginning of sea turtle nesting season in Florida, with thousands of endangered turtles laying their eggs on Gulf Coast and Atlantic beaches until the season ends October 31.
Lights out to protect baby sea turtles
- Light pollution has a negative effect on sea turtles, causing hatchlings to become disoriented and head away from the Gulf of Mexico when they emerge from their nest.
- Do not disturb nesting females or hatchlings by using flashlights, flash photography or lanterns at night.
- Turn out beachfront lights after dusk.
- Close blinds and curtains in beachfront homes when interior lights are on at night.
- To view complete sea turtle lighting regulations for Pensacola Beach, click here.
How to perform a lighting inspection for beach property
- Turn on all indoor and outdoor lights. Examine your property from multiple angles on the beach and take note of all visible light. One or more of the following adjustments may be necessary to reduce light pollution from your property:
- Reposition fixtures so that the point source of the light (bulb) is no longer visible from the beach.
- Shield the top and sides of exterior fixtures so that the light is directed downward onto your property and away from the beach.
- Replace incandescent, fluorescent and high-intensity lighting with amber or red LED or low-pressure sodium fixtures.
- Plant or improve native vegetation buffers between the light and the open beach.
“Leave No Trace” on the beach
- Fill in any holes in the sand and knock down sand sculptures at day’s end to remove obstacles blocking sea turtles’ nesting activities.
- Remain at a distance from nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.
- Properly dispose of trash and discarded fishing gear. Sea turtles can become entangled in old fishing nets and lines or ingest plastic bags and wrappers, mistaking them for jellyfish.
- Remove personal belongings from the beach at the end of each day. Items such as umbrellas, tents, beach toys and chairs left unattended on Pensacola Beach overnight will be removed and disposed of by cleaning crews.
- Through the Leave No Trace ordinance adopted in August 2015 by the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners, it is illegal to leave personal property on any portion of the sandy gulf beach daily from sunset until sunrise.
- To view the Leave No Trace ordinance, click here.
Sea turtle facts
- Escambia County beaches are home to four of the six species of sea turtles found in U.S. waters: loggerhead, green, leatherback and Kemp’s ridley.
- All species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered and protected by the Endangered Species Act.
- Only an estimated 1 in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings survive to reach adulthood.
To report an injured or dead sea turtle, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922.