Sunset on St. George Island. Photo by Dani Davis

August 4, 2023 — Summer remains in full swing in North Florida!  The hot weather brings many people to our lovely beaches and coastlines to swim and cool off. It’s also the time when we see caution signs and ropes popping up around our favorite beaches, reminding us to be aware of the nesting wildlife that share the beaches with us.

Sea turtle nest, marked by volunteers. Photo by Lynn Wilder

The beaches of Franklin and the surrounding counties support sea turtle and shorebird nests. Many of these species are either federally listed, like the loggerhead and green sea turtles, or state listed, like snowy plovers and least terns, meaning that these species are given extra protection – especially when it comes to their nesting. When visiting our beaches, here are a few reminders of ways we can be good neighbors to our shoreline wildlife.

Many bird species use the beach for nesting and foraging. Give them space. Photo by Dani Davis
  1. Leave some space: Keep at least 50 feet away from sea turtles and at least 300 feet away from nesting shorebirds. Getting too close could lead to nest abandonment, confusion, or predation, so keeping some distance helps shorebirds and sea turtles to have a more successful breeding season. Remember that it is illegal to harass or take sea turtles or their nestlings.
  2. Pack it out: Any trash, beach furniture, umbrellas, or anything else you’ve brought to the beach should be taken off of the shore when you leave. Beach chairs and furniture can entangle sea turtles while food scraps can attract predators, like raccoons, that also enjoy eating shorebird and sea turtle eggs.
  3. Fill in those holes: We all love digging a great hole on the beach, but these holes can trap sea turtle nestlings or adults if left unfilled. Humans are also injured by unseen holes.
  4. Turn out the lights: Lights confuse nesting turtles and disorient hatchlings, keep those lights off, close your blinds, and avoid being on the beach at night.
  5. Keep your (dog) friends close: even the friendliest dog can seem like a predator to nesting birds and turtles. Keep your dogs either on a short lease or, even better, leave them at home during the nesting season.
Holes left on the beach can trap wildlife. Fill your holes and remove all beach items each day. Photo by Lynn Wilder
A sea turtle crawls back to the ocean after nesting. Photo by Lynn Wilder

What should you do if you see something that threatens wildlife? Franklin County takes the safety of its beach residents (human and animal) very seriously. Holes left on the beach are a trap for turtles, but could easily lead to human injury as well. If you see large holes at night or the harassment of wildlife, a call placed to the non-emergency sheriff’s line (850-670-8500) for holes and FWC (888-404-3922) for harassment can help ensure that large holes get filled and wildlife are protected.

We all love visiting our beaches, let’s be mindful of our wildlife neighbors when we visit and do our part to ensure they feel safe on our coastlines.





Dani Davis is the Director of Outreach at Apalachicola Riverkeeper. She loves spending time exploring the Apalachicola River Basin and getting to know the flora and fauna that call this place home. You can reach her at [email protected].

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top