Sea turtle nesting season begins May 1 and ends Oct. 31.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Sea turtle nesting season begins May 1 and ends Oct. 31. Newly hatched turtles find their way to the sea by following the natural light reflected by the water. Young turtles have a small amount of energy that must take them to the water. Under natural conditions, they go to the brightest spot on the nighttime beach. If they disorient and head the wrong way, they may starve to death before landing in the floating sargassum weeds that are their food source.

Clearwater city ordinances determine specific lighting requirements for beach parking lots, streets and promenades to protect sea turtles. If you live near the beach, shut off or dim your lights at night.

In May 2018, Clearwater approved a voluntary resolution that promotes the long-term goal of reducing the harms of plastic pollution and single-use plastics. The city also partners with Ocean Allies, a grassroots environmental cause to help protect the environment.

Residents are encouraged to choose reusable or paper-based items when playing at the beach, and properly dispose of all garbage to help protect sea turtles and other marine life. Follow these tips from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to help protect sea turtle nests:

  • Flatten sand castles and fill in holes.
  • Bring reusable bags, straws and containers to prevent plastic waste from entering the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Pick up and properly dispose of litter on the beach.
  • Take all personal belongings from the beach at the end of the day, so no obstacles exist on the young turtles’ way to the water.
  • Stay off the dunes and use the designated walkovers for crossing.
  • Shield any artificial lighting that might shine toward the beach.

The Tampa Bay area averages about 120 nests each season, and each nest can contain an average of about 100 eggs. If you are lucky enough to find a turtle nest on the beach, don’t disturb it. If the nest is unmarked, notify the Clearwater Marine Aquarium at (727) 441-1790.