MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s that time of the year again. The official start of sea turtle nesting season is March 1 in Broward County.

Last year, the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program documented more than 3,000 nests on the County’s 24-mile coastline and some of the earliest recorded nests in program history.

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Three species of sea turtles typically nest on Broward’s beaches each season: leatherbacks, loggerheads and green turtles.

Long-term trends suggest increases in local nesting populations so if you’re headed to the beach, watch your step.

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.

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

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Artificial lights are one of the biggest threats to sea turtles in southeast Florida. Hatchlings use natural light from the moon and stars to find the water after hatching but artificial lighting near the beach can disrupt the process, causing turtles to become disoriented or confused.

That’s why Broward County and other coastal municipalities have lighting ordinances, which require lighting near the beach to be ‘sea turtle-friendly.’

FWC provides a list of certified fixtures that can be safely installed near sea turtle nesting beaches. Alternatively, you can contact the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program for assistance with light retrofitting or additional information.

If you see anyone disturbing a nest or turtle, call FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement at 1-888-404-FWCC.

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