Protect Florida's Endangered Sea Turtles
The Florida Keys are home to countless species of land and sea wildlife. While many birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and sea life flourish in our beautiful islands, some are endangered species that are protected by state and federal wildlife conservation efforts.
One of the largest protected species in the Keys is our beloved sea turtles. We even have a special non-profit whose main purpose is the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of these majestic shelled creatures, The Turtle Hospital located in Marathon.
If you've had the rare opportunity to witness a sea turtle in the wild, you know exactly how majestic they are. Sightings are rare because they spend most of their time underwater coming to shore only to lay their hatchlings in the months of March – October. There are five species of turtle we have in the Florida Keys: the Hawksbill, green sea turtle, loggerhead, leatherback and Kemps Ridley. All of these species are listed on the Endangered Species Act.
Swim with Sea Turtles in Key West
Sea turtles can range from 80-1400 lbs! They can swim up to 25 miles per hour and can migrate to and from feeding and nesting areas reaching as much as 1400 miles. These prehistoric reptiles are excellent navigators and rely on the earth's magnetic field changes to navigate. It's no wonder these guys are a rare sighting while paddleboarding or snorkeling in our turquoise blue waters.
Visit Dry Tortugas
Dry Tortugas is the most active turtle nesting location in the Keys, however, nesting areas can be spotted on any beach in our back yards in Key West. Very few of the eggs will hatch and make their way into the sea and grow into adulthood due to natural conditions and predators. Volunteers will "comb" the beach during nesting season to spot signs of nesting areas. Once spotted, the areas are blocked off to protect the endangered hatchlings and to give them a better chance of survival.
Visit the Turtle Hospital located in Marathon
Key West is a fabulous island to explore (we may be a little biased!), but each of the Keys has something different to offer. If you're feeling adventurous and want to learn more about our seafaring friends head up to Marathon and schedule a guided experience. You'll meet some of the turtles in residence, tour the hospital facilities, and get a sneak peek behind the scenes at the hospital's efforts in rescuing and rehabilitation.
In Hawaii, the sea turtle is a symbol of good luck and a long life. With such rare sightings here in the Keys and a lifespan up to 80 years, it's easy to see why!