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First Loggerhead Nest of the Season

Site of the first sea turtle nest on Pensacola Beach during the 2023 sea turtle season

Escambia County Sea Turtle Patrol volunteers recorded the first nest of the 2023 season on Pensacola Beach early Saturday morning, May 20, with help from nearby hotel staff who spotted the nest before volunteers arrived. The nest is a loggerhead, which account for 90% of nests laid in Escambia County.

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Three other species of sea turtle nest on Escambia County beaches May-October, including greens, leatherbacks and the rare Kemp’s Ridley. Once laid, the eggs will incubate for around 60 days, after which hatchlings emerge under the cover of darkness and make their way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Sea turtles of all sizes face many threats. For nesting females, white lights on the beach may deter them from nesting or cause them to abandon a nesting attempt, also known as a false crawl. Furniture, tents and toys left on the beach overnight create obstacles for nesting turtles and can injure or trap them on the beach. Because May and June are the busiest nesting months in Escambia County, more nests are expected in the coming weeks.

Help protect nesting sea turtles and other coastal wildlife this Memorial Day weekend by remembering:

  • Lights Out! Female turtles prefer dark, quiet beaches for nesting and hatchlings need dark skies to find the Gulf of Mexico. Leave the flashlights and cell phones at home or use a red flashlight when on the beach at night. Turn off beach-facing lights and close windows and curtains to keep our beaches dark.
  • Leave No Trace! Remove all furniture and toys from the beach when you’re done for the day, including hammocks, tents, canopies, chairs, toys and sports equipment.
  • Stow It, Don’t Throw it! Trash and food waste can entangle turtles and other wildlife and attract unwanted predators. Always dispose of trash in the proper receptacle and refrain from feeding wildlife.
  • If You Dig It, Fill It! Large holes are hazardous to both wildlife and people. Avoid digging large holes and fill in any holes, trenches or moats at the end of your visit.

For more information about sea turtles and other coastal wildlife in Escambia County, check out MyEscambia.com/seaturtles or follow the Escambia County Natural Resources Management Department on Facebook at @ECNaturalResourcesManagement.

If you encounter a nesting turtle, turn off all lights and retreat a safe distance away. Dead or injured sea turtles should be reported to Escambia County Marine Resources at (850) 426-1257 or the FWC Wildlife Alert line at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). All sea turtle work performed by Escambia County was completed under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine Turtle Permits #032a and #202.