The Miami-Dade County Sea Turtle Conservation Program (STCP) was established in 1980 in response to disoriented hatchlings found along A1A in Miami Beach. Before this time, sea turtle nesting was not being documented in the county. With the implementation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Parks Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission established the Sea Turtle Conservation Program to protect all species of sea turtles that call Miami-Dade beaches, home. Because of federal and state protections of marine turtles, consistently monitoring their nests became a crucial component to ensure their survival.
Miami-Dade County Sea Turtle Conservation Program biologist survey for marine turtle nesting everyday over 19 miles of the county from March to October. We are responsible for marking, monitoring and gathering data for nests, which is submitted to local, state and federal agencies. The purpose is to allow assessment of the distribution, abundance and trends in Miami-Dade County’s nesting marine turtles, to facilitate protection, assess of nest productivity and improve conservation planning and management. Being in the public’s eye for the majority of our efforts, STCP biologist also act as stewards of conservation to promote and educate the citizens of Miami-Dade County’s charismatic sea turtles.
To request material in accessible format, information on access for persons with disabilities or sign language interpreter services (seven days in advance) call Accessibility Services or TDD.
Are you interested in volunteering with Miami-Dade County's Sea Turtle Conservation Program?
Learn all about the magnificent sea turtles that visit Miami-Dade County Beaches through our educational programs! Participants will gain an understanding on sea turtle biology, diet, nesting and our program by one of our knowledgeable sea turtle specialists. Presentations include real sea turtle artifacts such as shells, skulls and the different items that they eat.
Our education programs can cater varying sizes of groups, both in person and virtual! Call our Outreach & Education phone number for more information.
A personalized sea turtle stake with individual/family/business name, placed adjacent to your sea turtle nest for the duration of nest incubation (typically 45-70 days)
A follow up email on when your nest has hatched!
Please note the following:
The adoption of a sea turtle nest is symbolic, as sea turtles are federally protected and it is unlawful to touch or harass sea turtles, hatchlings, eggs, and their associated nests
Sea turtle nests within Crandon and Haulover Park are eligible for Adopt a Nest Program. We, unfortunately, cannot honor specific locations or nests; your sea turtle stake will be placed at the next suitable nest within these Miami Dade County Parks
Sea turtles are wild animals! We are unable to predict how many nests will be laid, therefore adopting a nest is limited and based on how many nests are laid within these parks
Have Questions? Call or email our Education & Outreach Coordinator at 786-719-6836 or [email protected]
Experience an unforgettable night watching endangered sea turtle hatchlings be released to the ocean by authorized personnel. This once in a lifetime experience allows the public to observe and learn more about sea turtles conservation in Miami-Dade County. This program includes a presentation on sea turtles, a viewing table with sea turtle specimens, and a guided walk out to the beach at 9:00pm for the participants to observe the release of sea turtle hatchlings by authorized personnel.
This is a very popular program and tickets sell out quick! Registration for the hatchling release program typically start July 1. Visit the Miami-Dade County Parks Sea Turtle Conservation Program's social media pages for updates on ticket sales next summer.
All sea turtles are either Threatened or Endangered. They are protected under federal, state and local laws. The following threaten the sea turtle population:
Artificial lighting and urban sky glow
Entanglement with fishing gear
Coastal development and loss of nesting habitat
Miami-Dade County's most common nester is the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta). Florida serves as one of the largest nesting aggregations for Loggerhead Sea Turtles in the world. Miami-Dade County beaches are also important nesting habitat for the Green (Chelonia mydas), and Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) Sea Turtles. Both inshore and offshore waters offer developmental habitat for all of our nesting sea turtles and often other species such as the Kemp's Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imricata) Sea Turtles can also be found forging in nearby waters.
Sea turtle nesting season in Miami-Dade County runs April 1st to October 31st each year. However, nesting can occur before or after these dates. Monitoring times can also change with permitting requirements for approved beach projects. STCP staff work under a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued Marine Turtle Permit to survey the majority of County beaches, including seven municipalities and two County parks. STCP authorized personnel work under the FWC MTP 21-150.
During nesting season, surveys are conducted daily to monitor, record and study all sea turtle nesting activity. If a crawl is determined to have resulted in a nest, staff mark off the area with stakes, neon tape and a nest sign to protect the nest during incubation. Around 600 nests are laid on Miami-Dade County beaches every year.
Each nest will have approximately 100 hatchlings that will emerge and make their way to the ocean. Once in the water, it is thought that only one out of a thousand hatchlings will actually survive to adulthood, making conservation efforts incredibly important for the species.
Artificial lights cause problems for hatchlings as they emerge from their nests at night and instinctively crawl toward the brightest direction. On a dark, natural beach this would be the reflection of the night sky over the ocean. Unfortunately, some highly active and developed coastal areas in the County disorient hatchlings with bright, artificial lights. These lights cause them to crawl inland and away from the ocean, or to wander aimlessly on the beach, burning up energy that is important for their survival if they do reach the sea. Disoriented hatchlings often die from dehydration, exhaustion, being attacked or eaten and even passing cars on the street.
Artificial lighting can also discourage nesting female turtles from coming ashore or we tend to see evidence of higher nesting on our darker beaches. If darker nesting sites are limited she may come onto land several times to attempt to nest and eventually give up and choose a less-than-optimal nesting site for her eggs.
STCP is working to aid in correcting problematic lighting across the County's beaches through educating the public about the effects of artificial light pollution on sea turtles. Many local municipalities have established lighting ordinances and have been working with FWC to update their code to current standards and technology for sea turtle lighting.
Learn more about sea turtle protection laws and contacts in your area, or contact your municipality's code enforcement department.
If you find a dead, sick or injured sea turtle, please call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) 24-hour wildlife hotline at 1-888-404-3922, dial *FWC from your mobile phone, or call us at 305-310-3046. Follow any instructions given by the staff, who will report to the scene as soon as possible. (If it is calling after business hours, please leave a voicemail, which is monitored regularly, and we will get back to you as quickly as possible).
Be prepared to answer the following questions:
What is the location of the turtle?
Is the turtle alive or dead?
What is the approximate size of the turtle?
Is the turtle marked with spray paint?
Are there nearby access points to the turtle?
Without your support, the survival of sea turtles on the planet is uncertain. Here are some ways you can help sea turtles:
Please respect sea turtles natural behaviors and share the beach. Do not approach or harass nesting sea turtles or hatchlings. Although large reptiles, nesting sea turtles scare easily.
Never interfere or pick up hatchlings emerging from nests or walking on the beach. Without the right permits, this is a violation of the law. Hatchlings have limited energy reserves. If you observe hatchlings travelling away from the ocean, call FWC at their 24 hour wildlife hotline: 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC (*392) from your mobile device or our nighttime response line at 786-719-6836 or our stranding response line at 305-310-3046.
For necessary lighting keep it low, shielded, and long. Keep lights low to the ground, pointed downward and shielded from sight from the beach. Sea turtles cannot see long wavelength light well, changing bulbs to amber or red LED reduces the chance for disorientation. Learn more about lighting options for sea turtle nesting beaches.
Keep County beaches and waters clean. Properly dispose of garbage – don’t litter! Sea turtles may mistake debris for food. Imagine the resemblance between a floating plastic bag and a jelly fish!
Stay clear of marked sea turtle nests on the beach. It is a violation of state and federal law to disturb a sea turtle, its nest, eggs or hatchlings. If you encounter a person poaching or vandalizing a nest, call the local police or FWC (1-888-404-3922 or *FWC from your mobile phone). Do NOT try to interfere or stop the event yourself.
Don’t use bonfires, flashlights, flash photography or video camera lights on the beach at night. Bright lights can disturb and cause disorientation of nesting turtles and hatchlings.
Spread awarenessin your local community about sea turtles.
You are now leaving the official website of Miami-Dade County government. Please be
aware that when you exit this site, you are no longer protected by our privacy or
security policies. Miami-Dade County is not responsible for the content provided on
linked sites. The provision of links to these external sites does not constitute an
Please click 'OK' to be sent to the new site, or Click 'Cancel' to go back.