MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s that time of the year. May 1st marks the start of sea turtle nesting season in Florida.

So, if you are planning a trip to the beach, be careful where you step.

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Sea turtle nesting season lasts through the end of October. It’s a critical time when people can help keep sea turtles and hatchlings safe.

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All sea turtles are protected by Florida and federal laws. It is illegal to touch or disturb nesting sea turtles, hatchlings or their nests.

Here are some other important tips.

  1. Don’t shine lights on sea turtles or hatchlings or take pictures of them including cell phone photos.
  2. Use the Right Light to Help Them at Night. Turn off or adjust lighting along the beach in order to prevent nesting females or hatchlings from getting confused and going toward lights on land instead of the salt water, where they belong. Use turtle-friendly lighting on outside lights on homes and other buildings along the beach. Replace incandescent, fluorescent and high-intensity bulbs with FWC-certified low-wattage, long wavelength options available in red or amber colors. Turn out outdoor lights at night when not needed.
  3. Clear the Way at the End of the Day. Nesting mothers and hatchling sea turtles can get trapped or confused by beach furniture left on the beach at night. Bring furniture (such as beach chairs, umbrellas, buckets and tents) back to your house, condo or hotel at the end of the day.
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If you see anyone disturbing a nest or turtle, call FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement at 1-888-404-FWCC.