How To Help

All sea turtles found in U.S. waters are federally listed as endangered, except the loggerhead which is listed as threatened. Sea turtles face many threats, both on land and in the water, and only 1 in 1,000 will survive to adulthood. Although the threats to sea turtles and their habitats may seem insurmountable, there are simple steps that every person can take to help with conservation efforts.


Turn off all lights on the beach

Lights from flashlights and beachfront houses cause serious problems for turtles on the beach. Hatchling and nesting turtles find their way back to the sea using an instinct to travel away from the dark silhouettes of the dune vegetation and toward the brightest horizon. On natural beaches, the light from the moon and stars reflecting off the ocean guide them to the water. Beaches with artificial lights cause nesting females and hatchlings to become disoriented and crawl in the wrong direction. Most hatchlings that wander inland will die of exhaustion, dehydration, traffic on nearby roads, or predation.

  • Turn out all lights visible from the beach, dusk to dawn, from May through October.
  • Turn off all outdoor and deck lighting.
  • Close blinds and drapes on windows that face the beach or ocean. Unshielded interior lighting, even from just a single beachfront condominium, resort unit, or residence is enough to disrupt the normal sea-finding behavior of sea turtle hatchlings.
  • Do not shine lights on a sea turtle or take flash photography.
  • If you find lost hatchlings, please call the SCCF Sea Turtle Hotline: 978-728-3663 (978-SAVE-ONE)

Respecting Nesting Turtles

  • Witnessing a sea turtle on the beach is a very special experience. However, nesting females are very sensitive to disturbance, and too much human interference may prevent them from laying their eggs.  Here are some tips to follow if you encounter a turtle on the beach:
  • Never disturb a sea turtle on the beach.
  • If you see a nesting sea turtle, observe her only from a distance.
  • Do not shine lights on a sea turtle or take flash photography.
  • Never ride a sea turtle.

Maintain a Safe Nesting Environment

  • After digging holes on the beach, be sure to fill them in at the end of each day.
  • Sea turtles cannot move in reverse and if they fall into a hole they will become trapped and may get injured.
  • Do not leave beach furniture (chairs, tents, etc.) on the beach overnight.
  • These obstacles may cause a female to return to the water without laying her eggs. They may also block a hatchling’s route to the water, causing it to remain on the beach and dehydrate.
  • Objects on the beach cause turtles to abandon nesting

How to help at SCCF: