If you’ve ever visited Destin in late spring, you may have heard beachgoers talk about sea turtle nesting season. You may have seen tourism material covered with vibrant pictures of sea turtles swimming near the Destin shores. It’s not just fantasy promotional material. You can actually find sea turtles in Destin and all along 30A. In fact, in 2017, there were a total of 127 sea turtle nests throughout the South Walton area. However, the endangered nature of many of these sea turtles means that some caution does need to be taken into account. Here’s everything you need to know about finding sea turtles in Destin.
There are seven different species of sea turtles, and you have a chance of seeing most of them in Destin. Two of the most common are green and loggerhead sea turtles, both of which are throughout the world endangered. Green sea turtles can live upwards of 50 years, experiencing a similar lifespan to that of humans. Loggerhead sea turtles, those with a distinctly horned beak, can live as long as almost 70 years. You may also see hawksbill, leatherback, and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles in Destin. Most of these, too, are considered endangered and have certain protections under the Endangered Species Act.
Sea turtle season usually runs from May through October. In the late spring and early summer, sea turtles will flock to the peac at night to make their nests. They can have over 100 eggs per nest. Most years, South Walton will see about 50 nests, but in 2017, there were as many as 127. Night time beach goers at this time of year are encouraged to keep their distance and keep a careful watch out so as not to disturb any nests. The eggs take about 50-80 days to incubate, so by late summer, the new sea turtles will hatch and make their way back to the ocean. This is a trip they have to make on their own, and again, beachgoers should keep their distance when they see this, but it can still be a fascinating sight to behold.
So what’s the reason for such a large uptick in sea turtle nests in 2017? Most attribute that to the help of the South Walton Turtle Watch. The South Walton Turtle Watch is a group of volunteers who take it upon themselves to locate sea turtle nests on the beach and mark them so as to protect them from beachgoers. The protection of sea turtles due to the Endangered Species Act prohibits hunting, harming, or in any way interfering with sea turtles and their eggs. Only certified members of the SWTW are allowed to interact with sea turtles. In addition, beachgoers are cautioned against using lights that might distract sea turtles in their nesting process, except for turtle friendly lighting — usually a red light.
Want a chance to see sea turtles for yourself next season? Contact Forever Vacation Rentals today to book a vacation rental property for your next Destin vacation.