Sea turtle nesting season on Florida beaches begins March 1st. State wildlife officials are reminding beachgoers to turn off the flash when taking photos of nesting or hatching turtles.
Sea turtles, even hatchlings just emerged from buried eggs, use light reflecting off the ocean to find their way to the water. Streetlights, traffic lights and even camera flashes can confuse them. Hatchlings may head the wrong way. Nesting turtles may get disoriented and return to the water without laying their eggs, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Three species of sea turtles nest on Florida's Atlantic and Gulf beaches: loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles. All three are listed as endangered or threatened species and are protected from harvest or harassment.
Florida saw a record number of green sea turtle nests last year with 29,975 documented nests.