Sea Turtle Season to Begin in Gulf County, Florida

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Visitors can walk the beach with turtle patrol, looking for and marking nests.

Sea turtle season begins May 1 and runs through October, and Gulf County, Florida is the largest nesting place for sea turtles in the panhandle of Northwest Florida. It’s home to more than 40 percent of sea turtle nests, and there are many opportunities for visitors to experience these beautiful and endangered creatures.

“A bucket-list adventure in Gulf County is taking a turtle walk at dawn on the beach at Cape San Blas,” says Jennifer Adams, executive director of the Gulf County Tourist Development Council. “Sunrise is so beautiful, and starting in May, visitors could catch a mama turtle building her sandy nest. Then from late summer and into fall, visitors can spot tiny hatchlings emerging from the sand. It’s so special.”

The turtle patrol-guided beach walks are small — often just a few couples or a single family — so everyone can see what’s going on. Visitors get to help spot new nests, which look like big areas of disturbed sand, and mark the nests, so others understand to leave these areas alone so the turtles can incubate. In 2016, visitors helped mark 271 loggerhead nests on just the southern six miles of St. Joseph Peninsula alone.

After about two months of incubation, tiny hatchlings emerge from the sand and scramble to the Gulf, counting on the light of the moon and stars to guide them to the sea.

“We like to tell our visitors to be brave and find new adventures here. But our baby sea turtles really are the bravest ones in all of Gulf County,” says Jessica Swindall, one of Gulf County’s 23 Adventure Guides. Swindall and fellow Adventure Guides share their stories of wide-ranging adventures with travelers online, http://www.visitgulf.com/adventure-guides.

The Gulf County concierge team (1-800-482-GULF, http://www.visitgulf.com) connects visitors who want to go in search of turtle nests with St. Joseph Peninsula Turtle Patrol, one of many turtle patrols in the county. Gulf County keeps photos of baby sea turtles, sea turtle nests and sea turtle patrol volunteers on flickr — https://www.flickr.com/photos/gulfcountyfl.

About Gulf County
Gulf County, located in Northwest Florida, is designed by nature. Our 244 miles of shoreline, year-round adventures and wildlife encounters beckon to explorers. Our waters — Gulf of Mexico, St. Joseph Bay, Indian Pass Lagoon, Intracoastal Waterways and Dead Lakes — offer diverse experiences and untouched beauty. We have biking, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, camping and more. People here like to play hard and get dirty, seizing unexpected adventures every day. But when folks want to relax, we flow with the current, watch spectacular sunsets and walk with turtles at dawn. Learn more about our adventure: http://www.visitgulf.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. #LiveUnpacked
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