The City of Key West, Florida

The Southernmost City in the Continental United States

TRANSLATE

Sea Turtle Nesting Season Awareness

Sea turtle nesting season is from March 1 to October 31 (Atlantic) or May 1 to October 31 (Gulf). During this time, Key West residents and visitors may enjoy the beauty of watching baby sea turtle hatchlings in their natural habitat.

View "The Turtle Nest" Slide Show

How You Can Help Hatchlings
 

PROHIBITION OF ACTIVITIES DISRUPTIVE TO SEA TURTLES
 
(a) Prohibition of horseback riding, campfires, and vehicular traffic. Horseback riding and campfires shall be prohibited on nesting areas during the nesting season. Vehicular traffic shall also be prohibited on nesting areas during the nesting season except for emergency and law enforcement vehicles, vehicles permitted on the beach for marine turtle conservation or research, or vehicles used for beach cleaning in compliance with section 13-65, Standards for mechanical beach cleaning.
 
(b) Prohibiting storage or placement of any material in the nesting area. The storage or placement of any material such as but not limited to construction material, rip-rap, trash and debris, mulch or other organic material, landscaping material, fill, vehicles, or boats, that has potential to impede movement of hatchlings or adults between ocean and nesting areas, or that may cover existing nests or nesting sites is strictly prohibited.
 
(c) Development. All development shall be set back a minimum of fifty (50) feet from any area which serves as an active or potential nesting area for marine turtles. The fifty (50) foot setback will be measured from the landward toe of the most landward beach berm or from fifty (50) feet landward of mean high water (MHW), whichever results in the smaller total setback. The maximum total setback shall be one hundred (100) feet from MHW.
 
STANDARDS FOR EXTERIOR ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING
 
To prevent exterior artificial lighting from illuminating the jurisdictional boundaries or adjacent waters during the nesting season, the following measures shall be taken to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of new or existing artificial lighting:
 
(a) Exterior artificial light fixtures within direct line-of-sight of the beach shall be designed, positioned, modified, or removed so that:
(1) The point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach.
(2) The area within the jurisdictional boundaries is not directly, or indirectly illuminated.
(3) The area within the jurisdictional boundaries is not cumulatively illuminated.
(b) Measures such as but not limited to the following shall be taken to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of new or existing artificial beachfront lighting through appropriate design:
(1) Positioning of fixtures so that the point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is eliminated or is no longer visible from the beach.
(2) Replacement of fixtures having an exposed light source with fixtures containing recessed light sources or shields.
(3) Replacement of traditional light bulbs with yellow bug type bulbs not exceeding twenty-five (25) watts or low-pressure sodium vapor lamps.
(4) Replacement of non directional fixtures with completely shielded directional fixtures that point down and away from the beach.
(5) Replacement of fixture having transparent of translucent coverings with fixtures having opaque shields covering an arc of at least one hundred eighty (180) degrees and extending an appropriate distance below the bottom edge of the fixture on the seaward side so that the light source or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach.
(6) Replacement of pole lamps with low-profile, low-level luminaries no higher than forty-eight (48) inches off the ground such as low-mounted wall fixtures, low bollards, and ground-level fixtures, so that the light source or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach.
(7) Replacement of incandescent, fluorescent, and high-intensity lighting with the lowest wattage low-pressure sodium vapor lighting possible for the specific application.
(8) Planting or improvement of landscape vegetation in compliance with the land development regulations (chapter 9.5-345 environmental design criteria) between the light source and the beach to screen light from the beach.
(9) Construction of ground level barriers in compliance with the land development regulations (chapter 9.5-345 Environmental design criteria) to shield light sources from the beach.
(10) Limitation of exterior lights used expressly for safety or security purposes. Any such lighting allowed must conform to the measures set forth in this section in order to reduce or eliminate negative effects on sea turtles.
(11) Permanent removal of all floodlights, up-lights, or spotlights used for decorative or accent purposes.
(12) Permanent removal or disabling of any fixture which cannot be brought into compliance with the provisions of these standards.
(13) Shielding or modification of any existing lighted sign pursuant to the land development regulations (chapter 9.5-345 environmental design criteria) such that it is not directly visible from the beach.
Freshly hatched baby sea turtles make their way to the open ocean
 
 STANDARDS FOR INTERIOR ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING
  
To prevent interior artificial lighting from illuminating the jurisdictional boundaries or adjacent waters during the nesting season, measures such as, but not limited to, the following shall be taken to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of new or existing interior light emanating from doors and windows:
 
(a) Interior artificial lighting within direct line-of-sight of the beach shall be designed, positioned, modified, or removed so that:
(1) The point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach.
(2) The area within the jurisdictional boundaries is not directly or indirectly illuminated.
(3) The area within the jurisdictional boundaries is not cumulatively illuminated.
(b) Measures such as but not limited to the following shall be taken to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of new or existing interior beachfront lighting through appropriate design:
(1) Use of window treatments such as blackout draperies, shade-screens or blinds to shield interior lights from the beach.
(2) Installation of new windows which meet the standards for tinted glass or, for existing windows, an application of window tint or film that meets the standards for tinted glass.
(3) Turning off all unnecessary interior lights.
(4) Arrangement of lamps and other moveable light fixtures away from windows.
(5) Appropriate interior design to eliminate overhead lighting which could illuminate the nesting beach.
(6) For new construction within line of sight of the beach, tinted glass shall be installed on all windows and glass doors of single-or multi-story structures
PROTECTION FROM PREDATION
 
 (a) No predatory pets or pets likely to have a potential for being disruptive or damaging to nesting turtles, hatchlings, or nests shall be allowed to roam loose and unsupervised within the jurisdictional boundaries during the nesting season. Such pets include but are not limited to dogs, cats, snakes, lizards or iguanas, ferrets and pigs.
(b) Feeding of raccoons, opossums and other wild animals within the jurisdictional boundaries is prohibited.
 
To view the complete City of Key West Ordinance for Sea Turtle Protection, click the following link:

Turtle Nest
Tracks from the night before show that sea turtles have made it safely to the ocean

Contact Us

In this Department

More Information