Sea Turtle Program
The roughly three mile stretch of beach in the Town of Highland Beach provides our residents with a place to relax and recreate. Our beaches also serve as critical nesting grounds for endangered sea turtles. From March 1 through October 31 each year, the turtles come to our shores and lay thousands of eggs in nests all along the beaches. Weeks later, the hatchlings burst from the sand and make their way to the sea.
Almost all nesting activity, as well as the emergence of the hatchlings from their nests, takes place at night. One of the biggest dangers to nesting females and hatchlings comes from beachfront lighting. Visible artificial light can deter females from nesting and also interfere with the hatchlings journey to the sea. The hatchlings are attracted to the source of brightest light, optimally; the reflection of natural light on the water, and the brightness of a spotlight, streetlight, or even a flashlight can confuse the hatchlings and misdirect them from their trek to the ocean, threatening their survival. Less than 1 in 1,000 sea turtles survive to adulthood.
Protecting the Sea Turtles
In Highland Beach, trained volunteers monitor the activity of sea turtles and mark nests on our beaches with wooden stakes. All residents are urged to assist in the protection of the turtles by:
- Avoiding any potential nest areas that are marked by stakes, or tracks leading to, or from a nest.
- Turning off all beachfront lighting, dusk to dawn, from March 1 to October 31 (Ordinance Number 554). See Highland Beach Code, Article V, Chapter 4, Section 8.
- Avoid walking on the beach at night and do not use flashlights on the beach during the nesting season.
Injured or Dead Sea Turtles
If you encounter an injured or dead sea turtle, please report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) 24-hour Wildlife Alert Number at888-404-FWCC 888-404-3922.
Please be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What is the exact location of the animal?
- Is the turtle alive or dead?
- What is the approximate size of the turtle?
- Is the turtle marked with spray paint? (This may indicate that the turtle has been previously documented.)
- What is the location of the closest access point to the turtle?
If the turtle is alive, please be prepared to stay with it until help arrives.
For more information about how to contact the FWC about sea turtles or other animals, please visit the FWC website.
Protecting Palm Beach County
To learn more about protecting sea turtles in Palm Beach County, download the Protect Palm Beach County's Other Visitors brochure. This brochure is published by the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resource Management and includes information on:
- Nesting Sea Turtles
- Hatchling Sea Turtles
- Beachfront Lighting
- Guided Turtle Walks
- Important Contact Information
Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate
One way for Florida residents to support sea turtle conservation is to purchase a sea turtle specialty license plate. Proceeds from the specialty plates help fund the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Marine Turtle Protection Program. To learn more about sea turtle license plates please visit Florida's Sea Turtle License Plate official website.