Rolling Out the Orange Tape for Sea Turtle VIPs
With hundreds of fun activities for visitors of all ages, Panama City Beach welcomes an average of 5,000 visitors every day. Close to nine million tourists come to our city every year to enjoy our white sandy beaches and sparkling emerald waters. While here visitors can go parasailing, ride a banana boat, jet ski, or go deep sea fishing. Here at Aquatic Adventures, we enjoy spending time with and entertaining each and every one of our visitors. But we have to admit, some visitors get VIP treatment. We have a special group of visitors who only stop by once or twice a year. When they arrive, we have to ask our other friends and visitors to step aside and stay behind the orange tape. But don’t be jealous. We’d cordon off a space for you too if you were on the threatened or endangered species list.
Panama City Beach’s Sea Turtle Nursery
May is the start of sea turtle nesting season. These beautiful creatures love our Panama City Beaches too. The threatened loggerhead sea turtle and the endangered green and leatherback sea turtle species have all made it to our Panama City Beach shores to lay their eggs. But because female sea turtles were built for water, they can’t stay with their nests once the eggs are laid. After carefully covering the eggs with sand, these majestic sea creatures have to leave their nests behind and return to the sea. It is up to all of us to make sure our activities on the shore don’t harm the eggs buried under the sand.
Here are some guidelines you can follow to help our sea turtles:
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission operates a 24-hour hotline for you to call if you see a turtle nest, hatchlings or an injured sea turtle on the beach. Turtle Watch volunteers and staffers keep an eye on 17.6 miles of beach in Bay County throughout the sea turtle nesting season.
If you enjoy taking early morning walks on the beach, you may be the first to discover a fresh sea turtle nest. Female sea turtles come ashore at night and lay their eggs. Sometimes there is a telltale line of tracks going from the nest to the water’s edge. Our Turtle Watch patrols will be out every morning to look for new nests and give them their VIP roping. If you spot one first, please don’t disturb it—and let our team know. They will stake off the nest with special tape to keep visitors from stumbling onto it.
It’s ok to watch a sea turtle preparing her nest and laying her eggs as long as you keep your distance and don’t shine a light in her eyes. And no flash photography, please. Really, no one wants to be blinded when they’re trying to lay an egg!
If you are renting a property near the beach during your stay or park at the beach at night, please dim your lights. Turtle hatchlings will instinctively crawl toward the brightest light they see, and we want that light to be the glow of the moon on the water. From May to October, we observe “Turn Lights out for Turtles” here at Panama City Beach. If your light is visible to humans on the beach, it can affect the sea turtles too.
Visitors are welcome to watch when the hatchlings emerge. Turtle Watch volunteers will begin checking the nests nightly once the big day approaches. If you spot a hatchling, and there’s no volunteer in sight, go ahead and call our hotline to let someone know that the babies are on the move.
Explore All of our Wonderful Marine Life
Watching a sea turtle hatchling emerge and bravely make its way to the ocean is an amazing event. But that’s not the only way for you to experience our Panama City Beach marine life up close and personal. Aquatic Adventures’ dolphin cruises can take you on a viewing tour of one of the areas most playful characters, the bottlenose dolphin. As we cruise near the untamed Shell Island, expect to see lots of other exciting marine life as well, including sea turtles, fish and many types of coastal seabirds.
For those of you who want to swim with the fishes, you can join an Aquatic Adventure snorkeling trip The gulf waters off Panama City Beach are home to several artificial reefs and shipwrecks that are home to an amazing abundance of sea life. From sea stars to tropical fish, you’ll delight in meeting our local inhabitants up close and personal. Who knows? A curious dolphin may even decide to check you out!
We love our good times here in Panama City Beach, and there is always something exciting to see or do when you visit. We love our wildlife too. So come join us on an aquatic adventure. We’re sure you will love Panama City Beach’s wild side too.