St. George Island provides one of the best nesting locations for sea turtles. Sea turtles are among the oldest creatures in the world! For more than 100 million years the species has thrived despite a host of natural predators that prey on sea turtle eggs and hatchlings. Unfortunately, humans pose the greatest threat to these majestic reptiles today.
Marvel at Sea Turtle Nesting
Protecting the Earth's Oldest Creatures
Sea turtles spend most of their lives at sea, emerging only to lay their eggs in a nest they excavate in the sand. During the late spring and summer months, female sea turtles migrate from the open Gulf to nest on the relatively undeveloped beaches of the Florida Panhandle. The beaches of northwest Florida provide excellent habitat for nesting sea turtles, and the barrier island beaches in the Apalachicola area have the greatest concentration. While the loggerhead is the most common turtle reported to nest here, there have been occasional reports of green sea turtles nesting and even rarer occurrences of leatherback nests.
May 1 marks the beginning of sea turtle nesting throughout Florida. May is also when local volunteers begin walking beach areas to locate and mark off nesting sites. The turtles lay their eggs from May through October, with 50 to 150 baby turtles hatching after 45 to 60 days, usually at night. One female may nest several times in a season.
Leave No Trace
In order to help female turtles more easily navigate the beaches to nest and allow hatchlings a clear path back to the water, the Plantation has a Leave No Trace policy in place to help provide safe nesting grounds for the turtles.
In 1998, Franklin County passed a lighting ordinance for marine turtle protection to aid in the protection of sea turtles which the Plantation includes in their Architectural Policies.
Although numbers vary, current research indicates that only one sea turtle hatchling in every 5,000 reaches adulthood. In Franklin County and especially the Plantation, we are working to increase these odds! We ask our residents and visitors to help us in our efforts to save the sea turtles.
Watch a 2020 Turtle Talk on the Sea Turtles of St. George Island by the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve.