23 May 2022
Okaloosa Island Sea Turtles: How to Protect Them While Having Fun
Who doesn’t love the beach? Who doesn’t love animals? As the summer season gets into full swing, you can have your fun at the beach while still doing your part to preserve the habitation of an important species of animal—sea turtles. Here are some tips and tricks to keep sea turtles safe while having fun in your home away from home, Okaloosa Island, Florida.
The history of sea turtles
The sea turtle’s history is a long and interesting one, spanning more than 150 million years. Once they were present in large numbers in U.S. waters, but because of overhunting and habitat destruction, they are now considered endangered species. However, public awareness of sea turtles and conservation efforts have made them a protected species and have helped to rebuild their populations. It has been said that when Captain James Cook discovered Australia he saw so many sea turtles that he could not land on shore for fear of stepping on them! They used to be common in many parts of Florida, including along Destin beaches. But like most other marine animals, such as whales and dolphins, they became hunted extensively by man until they were declared an endangered species in 1978. How to protect them while having fun at Destin West: Okaloosa Island sea turtles are listed as threatened under federal law, which means it is illegal to harass or harm them. In order to protect these endangered creatures, you should avoid any activity that might interfere with their nesting process or disturb baby turtles when they hatch.
Things you can do to protect them
1. Spend time on the beach and help clean up before leaving so sea turtles can come out to feed. There are two areas of Okaloosa island that have the most prevalent sea turtle nests. Make sure to pick up trash, recycle and keep your eyes peeled for any wildlife along the way. Don’t forget your camera!
2. Beach-goers should be aware of sea turtle nesting season which is typically from May through October. During these months, there is a chance you will encounter a nest while walking along the shoreline or even in shallow water near shore. If you do find a nest please leave it alone and contact one of our local organizations below who can provide more information about how to help protect sea turtles in our area.
3. The Department of Natural Resources also asks residents to help protect sea turtles by keeping lights off when they aren’t at home or going outside to let their dogs out during early morning hours when lights would not disturb marine life. It also asks residents not to use flashlights at night while walking around on beaches as they could disturb hatchlings looking for a place to hide during daylight hours.
4. For more information check out our blog post: https://www.destinwest.com/blog/recommendations/sea-turtle-season-okaloosa-island
About World Turtle Day
The first-ever World Turtle Day will be celebrated on May 23rd, with events taking place all over the world. The goal of World Turtle Day is to promote public awareness about sea turtles and their conservation. Learn about how you can help these endangered species during your next beach vacation! There are four main types of sea turtles in Florida, Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green, and Hawksbill. Loggerhead sea turtles are by far the most common in Florida waters – there are around 4 million nesting females every year! Leatherbacks lay eggs only once every two years – they have a longer lifespan than other turtle species (around 60 years) but grow at a slower rate. Green sea turtles nest throughout much of South Florida from March through October, while Hawksbills nest along both coasts from May through September. All three species nest primarily on sandy beaches; however, green sea turtles tend to prefer secluded beaches while hawksbills frequent more populated areas. It’s important to remember that no matter where you go in Destin West or the Emerald Coast area, it’s crucial that you keep a safe distance away from any wild animal—including these beautiful creatures!
The things you should do before going into the water
When you’re ready to take a dip in Emerald Coast’s beaches, follow these tips for protecting sea turtles. Observe them from afar — This is more than just a suggestion; it’s actually required by law. To protect wildlife and yourself, stay at least 50 feet away from sea turtles so they can continue their natural behaviors—such as eating and resting—in peace. Do not feed or touch them — Not only is touching wild animals illegal in Florida but feeding them could make them sick. If a turtle eats something that doesn’t agree with its stomach, it could die or become unable to find food on its own later on. Never hold turtles underwater or try to ride one — Wild animals are unpredictable and can bite unexpectedly if they feel threatened. You should also avoid taking selfies with sea turtles because you might accidentally get too close and scare them. Watch out for signs posted along shorelines—these areas may be protected habitats or nesting sites.
The things you should do when in the water
Sunblock is important for any area exposed to sunlight, but even more so when you’re swimming in saltwater. These rays can penetrate and harm your skin long after you’ve dried off from a dip in the ocean. To protect yourself, use a zinc-based cream with SPF 15 or higher before heading down to your favorite beach spot. And remember that these chemicals don’t just stop at your shoulders—your face needs protection too! Also, be sure to wear UV-protective sunglasses while in direct sunlight; it doesn’t matter how dark they are if they don’t block out harmful rays. And lastly, always apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. This will give it time to absorb into your skin properly and prevent painful burns later on. Be sure to take a look at https://alertokaloosa.com/beach-flags-conditions/ to monitor the UV Index
The things you should do after leaving the water
There are several ways you can do your part and help protect our local sea turtles. First, make sure you’re leaving no trace behind at any of our Emerald Coast beaches or waters. That means taking all your trash out with you, not harming wildlife in any way, keeping pets on a leash and not disturbing nesting turtles. Second, share these beach- and water-safety tips with others. The more people who know about how to properly interact with our marine life, the better off we’ll be. Finally, donate to organizations that support turtle conservation efforts such as The Nature Conservancy or Save Our Seas Foundation. It’s up to us as individuals to ensure that we don’t harm these incredible creatures—and it doesn’t take much effort! We just need to follow a few simple rules while we enjoy ourselves on Destin West’s beautiful beaches and waters. And remember, if you see someone doing something harmful to a turtle or its habitat, speak up and educate them. Together we can preserve our natural world for generations to come.