Every May, Green, Loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley, and even rare Leatherback sea turtles head to Pensacola beaches for nesting. Secluded Gulf Islands National Seashore, from Santa Rosa Island to Fort Pickens, and Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key beaches are perfect spots for the turtles' secret lairs. The turtles appear during the night, dig nests at the foot of the sand dunes, lay their eggs, and disappear back into the sea. About two months later, tiny baby turtles hatch, finding their way out of the dunes and into the water. Their only guide is the moonlight over the Gulf of Mexico. This is the time for trained volunteers to patrol the dunes and offer a helping hand to turtles when needed. Volunteers assist hatchlings in case they get disoriented. They also monitor nests with stethoscopes and mark the nests where turtles have hatched. Special workshops are held at Fort Pickens to train volunteers. If you happen to spot a turtle disoriented in the dunes, contact Gulf Islands National Seashore. Also, do not use artificial light on the beach, as it may confuse the hatchlings.
Best time for sea turtle viewing in Pensacola
The turtle nesting season in the Pensacola area usually starts in May. The hatching season starts two months later, in July, and lasts through October. Hatching typically peaks in August.