JOIN US! If you live in the Panama City area, you can volunteer by contacting us at Turtle Watch to participate in turtle monitoring activities. You can join the St. Andrew Bay Resource Management Association and help support Turtle Watch through your membership dues which start at $15. If you spot a nesting sea turtle or notice hatchlings on the beach, or if you see a dead or injured sea turtle on the beach, immediately call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission at 888-404-3922 (24-hr hotline). You may watch the turtle prepare her nest as long as you avoid crowding her, and do not shine lights on her or take flash photos. You may also attend nest excavations where you can see hatched and unhatched eggs and maybe live hatchlings.
REDUCE BEACHFRONT LIGHTING If you live on or within a few hundred yards of the beach, you can "Turn Lights out for Turtles" during the nesting season from May through October. Any light source visible to an observer on the beach is likely to affect sea turtles. Here are some tips on how you can reduce light reaching the beach: (1) lower or shield outdoor patio lights, (2) place security lights on motion sensors to keep lighting off when it is not needed, (3) apply dark window tinting to windows visible from the beach and draw curtains after dark, (4) replace existing light fixtures with shielded low-pressure sodium or yellow "bug" lights that are less disturbing to turtles. For more information on lighting solutions, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), Imperiled Species Management Section, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd, Tallahassee, Florida 32399, (850) 922-4330.
PROTECT THE DUNES Sand dunes are the first line of defense against storms and act as a buffer to protect homes and natural habitats. Dunes also reduce disorientation of turtles by providing a vegetative light buffer between development and the nesting beach. You can help by using dune walkovers and designated beach access points to cross the dunes. If you own beachfront property, you can restore sand dunes damaged by storms, foot traffic, or vehicles. Two ways to help rebuild dunes are to plant sea oats and install sand fencing. Please be aware that improperly installed sand fencing can pose hazards to sea turtles, so before starting a dune restoration project, contact FWCC Office of Beaches and Coastal Systems, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd, Tallahassee, Florida 32399, (850) 488-4676.
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT for sea turtles by purchasing a specialty plate when you renew your tag. Proceeds fund the sea turtle recovery effort throughout Florida, including here in Bay County.
See a turtle or tracks on Panama City Beach?
Call 888-404-3922 (24-hr hotline)