|Turtle watch programs are incredibly popular, but the number of people allowed to participate on any one night is quite limited. Advance reservations are mandatory. So are long pants, long sleeve shirts and insect repellent!||
By M. Timothy O'Keefe
All of the turtle walk programs are on Florida's East Coast since this is where the greatest concentration of nesting occurs. You are not allowed to use a flashlight or take flash photography. Your guide always does their best to find a turtle, but since sea turtles are wild animals with minds of their own, there are no guarantees. This is why they are called turtle "walks" and not turtle "watches."
Both the northern and southern districts each have a road five miles long with boardwalks at various intervals. Turtles are observed within one-quarter of a mile of a boardwalk. Groups are limited to 25; the age limit is 8-years old.
Sea Turtle Preservation Society
Headquartered in the heart of turtle nesting area, the Preservation Society conducts walks during June and July. The contact number is 321/676-1701.
Sebastian Inlet State Park
Public walks are conducted several times a week during June and July. Reservations are taken two weeks ahead of a scheduled walk. The first call of the day is taken at 9AM. Groups are limited to 20 people. Call 321/589-2147. Normally, you can make reservations for up to six people. The beach walk could be up to three miles in length. The program ends at midnight.
Florida Power & Light
Florida Power & Light is a nationally recognized leader in helping protect the state's plant and wildlife, particularly manatees and sea turtles. Walks are conducted Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings at the FPL St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant on Hutchinson Island during June and July. Reservations are made by calling (Florida only) 800/334©5483 after May 15. Walks begin at 9PM with an orientation and education program. Activities are usually ended by midnight but may last longer if the turtle under observation hasn't completed her nesting.
Marinelife Center of Juno Beach
1200 U.S. Hwy. 1, Loggerhead Park, Juno Beach
Turtle walks are conducted Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings in June and July, and reservations are taken beginning May 1 on a first-come basis: 407/627-8280. The walks cover about 300 yards of beach. A donation of $2.50 per person is requested.
Hobe Sound Nature Center
Hobe Sound, FL
Walks are scheduled Tuesday and Thursday evenings in June and July. Reservations should be made by calling the Nature Center at 772/546-2067 starting in April. Thirty people are allowed to sign up for each walk, with no minimum age restrictions. Waiting lists are also taken in case of last©minute cancellations. Donations are requested.
Museum of Discovery and Science
Even if you don't sign up for a turtle walk through the museum, you should still try and visit. During the summer months, a visible nest of live, incubating eggs is on display.
The beach walks take place in the heart of Fort Lauderdale itself on a stretch of beach where the condo lights are not overpowering.
Because this is such a highly developed area, most of the sea turtle nests have to be relocated to hatcheries, which are not open to the public. Walks are held during June and July. Reservations are taken beginning around April 15: 954/467-6637, ext. 3511. A small fee is charged.
John U. Lloyd State Recreation Area
6503 North Ocean Drive, Dania
Walks are held Wednesday and Friday evenings in June and July. Reservations are taken beginning May 1 by calling the park at 954/923-2833. Each group is limited a maximum of 25 people with a minimum age limit of six years old. Normal state park admission fees apply.