Sea turtle nesting season runs from May 1 through October 31. The first sea turtle nest in Walton County is usually found the third week in May. We find these nests by walking the beach early in the morning and looking for tracks left by the female when she comes ashore to nest. The tracks look like large tractor tracks that begin and end at the water line.
We also monitor the nests after they have been laid. Once a nest hatches it is excavated in 72 hours and any hatchlings left in the nest are released to the open sea. Empty egg shells are counted, and all conditions of the nest cavity are reported to D.E.P.
The heart and soul of the South Walton Turtle Watch is the tireless dedicated volunteers who walk the beach at dawn looking for tracks of sea turtles who came from the sea during the night to nest. Nests and false crawls, are documented. Turtle Watch volunteers also monitor hatching nests, documenting the success rate.
South Walton Turtle Watch volunteers now include night walkers, monitoring potential lighting problems that cause lighting disorientation to hatchlings. Disorientation results in many hatchling deaths each year.
South Walton Turtle Watch needs your help. If you would like to walk the beach, or if you see a sea turtle, or sea turtle tracks, please call Sharon Maxwell at 897-5228, or call the Florida Marine Patrol, at 1-800-342-5367.
For more about the remarkable South Walton Turtle Watch Volunteers and their ongoing work please visit www.seaturtlewatch.org