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2023 proves to be record-setting year for sea turtle nesting season in Broward County

Sea turtle nesting season in 2023 was a record breaker for coastal communities in Broward County, officials said Monday.

The season runs between March 1 and Oct. 31, and is essential for the survival of the federally-protected reptiles.

Broward and other seaside counties and towns statewide have ordinances to make sure there are as little obstacles and distractions on the beach for nesting mothers and newborn turtles.

One common rule is that residents who live on the beach shut off lights that shine toward the ocean at night. That’s because newly-hatched turtles use the light to find the sea after emerging from their nests. With electric lights on homes and buildings, they could go the wrong way.

This season, 4,328 nests were recorded on Broward beaches, the county said in a statement Monday.

Not only was 2023 one for the books for sea turtles in general, it was the first time in the history of the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program, started in 1981, that record-breaking numbers were seen for all three sea turtle species, the county said.

Among the total nests, there were 3,445 loggerhead nests, 798 green turtle nests and 85 leatherback nests, the county said.

Previous record years for each species were 2016 when loggerhead turtles made 3,400 nests; 2021, when green turtles made 788 nests and in 2021, when leatherbacks made 86 nests, according to the county.

While each of the state’s coastal municipalities has its own beachfront lighting ordinance, most require property owners to turn off their lights from sunset to sunrise during turtle nesting season.

For more information about ordinances in you county, vising the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website at https://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/lighting/ordinances.