All marine turtles in Georgia are protected by state and federal law. To help conserve these species:
• Minimize beachfront lighting during sea turtle nesting season. Turn off, shield or redirect lights.
• When walking the beach at night, don’t use flashlights and flash photography. They can deter turtles from coming ashore or disturb nesting turtles.
• If you encounter a sea turtle on the beach, observe at a distance.
• Don’t disturb turtle tracks. Researchers use them to identify species and mark nests for protection.
• Do not touch or disturb nests or hatchlings.
• Properly dispose of your garbage. Turtles may mistake plastic bags, Styrofoam and trash floating in the water as food.
• Remove recreational equipment such as lounge chairs and umbrellas from the beach at night. They can deter nesting attempts and interfere with the seaward journey of hatchlings.
• Protect beach vegetation that stabilizes sand and the natural coastline.
• When boating, stay alert and avoid turtles. About 28 percent of the sea turtles found dead or hurt in Georgia in 2015 suffered injuries consistent with being hit by a boat. Boaters who hit a sea turtle are urged to stand by and contact DNR at 1-800-2-SAVE-ME (272-8363).
• Also, report any dead or injured sea turtles seen at 1-800-272-8363. (If the turtle is tagged, include the tag color and number in the report if possible.)
Sources: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia DNR