Every year between May and October, New Smyrna’s shore is graced with the presence of the ocean’s most honored creature… the sea turtle. This majestic species journeys to our sand each summer to nest and begin a new generation that will soon make their way to sea.
Our beach town is dedicated to protecting our sea turtles to the best of our abilities as both nature and human negligence have endangered these animals. Sea turtles are challenged with survival from birth; from hungry beach birds to water-bound predators to boats, trash, and debris, they often struggle to make it to adulthood. We’re determined to help change that! Below we’ve provided information on how we can together protect New Smyrna’s wildlife and provide a safe place for them in this world.
Are All Sea Turtles Endangered?
At this time, six out the seven sea turtle species are labeled as either endangered or threatened. Most species have become incredibly rare and others have only a few left in existence. Sadly human impacts are the leading cause in their extinction as fisheries bycatch, coastal development, plastic pollution, and more have made their environment dangerous. One study found plastic in the stomachs of more than one-third of leather-back turtles found dead since 1968.
Though the statistics need improving, conservationists are increasingly spreading awareness and enacting positive change within beachside communities. From environmental policies to the Sea Turtle Habitat Conservation Plan, coastal cities are realizing the necessity for eco-friendly change within their towns.
Curious about the turtles that visit our shore? Learn more about our wildlife friends here!
Who Protects the Sea Turtles?
You do! Whether you’re a New Smyrna local or a visitor for a week, we all play a factor in preserving the turtle population. Officially, the Environmental Management Division is responsible for the care and protection of sea turtles in New Smyrna Beach and throughout all of Volusia County.
New Smyrna Beach does a wonderful job in providing opportunities that make caring for the environment fun and easy. Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park has a “Fill-A-Bag” station installed that provides beachgoers with buckets to collect trash as they walk along the beach. Several times throughout the year, coastal clean-up events are held where hundreds of volunteers pick up litter along the major beach sites and parks. Our Marine Discovery Center plays a vital role in New Smyrna’s conservation as they’re continually hosting scientific surveys, restoring shorelines, improving water quality, and more.
Where do Sea Turtles Nest?
Right on our shore! From the beginning of May to October, mother sea turtles trek from the depths of the ocean all the way to NSB’s sand to lay their eggs. The eggs will incubate for about two to three months along the shoreline in the dunes and grasses.
During sea turtle season, you’ll see nesting grounds blocked off with tape and signs to prevent disturbances. Tampering with the nests in any way is considered illegal. New Smyrna Beach takes this offense seriously and warns of monumental fines and even jail time for interfering with nests. Utilize caution, follow signage, and be respectful of the wild species in the area.
What about Property Lighting?
Light pollution from buildings along the shore can be detrimental to sea turtle nesting. Leaving lights on will dizzy turtles coming to shore and confuse hatchlings from finding their way to the ocean. Luckily, Volusia County has a seasonal lighting ordinance (May 1 – October 31) that protects these creatures. When staying in an oceanfront or beachside rental, it’s imperative that you close the blinds and prevent light from shining toward the beach from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Not only is it environmentally responsible, but it will save you from paying up to $1,500 in fines!
If you and yours go for an evening walk, make sure to leave flashlights and cellphones in your vacation rental. These lights are also prohibited during nighttime hours.
The best part about protecting Florida’s sea turtles? You have the chance of watching them in their natural habitat! Many beachgoers have witnessed the wonder of these creatures nesting on the shore. If you’re so lucky, remember to keep your distance and keep all cell-phone lighting away!
From beautiful wildlife to gorgeous scenery, come visit our oceanfront town for the best Florida beach vacation. Browse our selection of condos and homes online or call us at 386.478.7863 for a professional vacation planner to help you book your stay.