Florida's Space Coast, with its 72 miles of beaches comprising area cities such as Cocoa Beach, Titusville, Melbourne and Palm Bay, is the second largest sea turtle nesting site in the world. Located only 45 minutes away from the attractions of Orlando, guests can witness endangered 300-pound sea turtles nesting in the dunes and tiny newborn turtles scurrying toward the moonlight ocean. Four types of threatened or endangered sea turtles come to the Space Coast beaches: Loggerheads, Green sea turtles, Leatherbacks and Hawksbills. In an average 12-14 week nesting period, more than 8,000 sea turtles lumber ashore to lay their eggs.
Through August, authorities and volunteers from the Sea Turtle Preservation Society lead beach tours from dusk to midnight allowing families to witness the nesting, birth and survival of rare sea turtles. Prior to the tours, visitors are shown a slide show and participate in an educational talk on local preservation and rescue efforts. A $5 donation is recommended. Reservations are recommended well in advance for sea turtle nesting tours. For more information, contact the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-676-1701 or visit their website at STPS. For more information on the wide variety of family-friendly accommodations in the area, contact the Florida's Space Coast Office of Tourism at 800-93-OCEAN or visit their website at Florida's Space Coast.
The Atlantic coast of Florida is home to other sea turtle preservation efforts as well. In Palm Beach County, the 760 acre John D. MacArthur Beach State Park holds nocturnal turtle walks during the summer. In Boca Raton, the Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex holds evening turtle walks as well. For more information, contact the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau at (561) 233-3000 or visit their website at: Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Florida Power and Light sponsors turtle walks for the public to view turtles in their natural environment. Groups of up to 50 people are given the "Turtle of Knowledge" tour at the FP & L Energy Encounter located on South Hutchinson Island. This tour is filled with exciting pictures and features a moving video on the plight of the sea turtles. After the talk, the group then goes to the beaches and witnesses the sea turtles nesting. The tours are held every Friday and Saturday between June 3 and July 23, 2005 at 9:00 PM. Reservations are required. To secure your family's place call, 1-800-334-5483. It is advisable to wear long sleeves, long pants, and mosquito repellent to avoid the bugs. For more information about sea turtles, visit the St. Lucie County, Florida website or call 1-800-344-TGIF.
From June through July, the Museum of Discovery & Science in Fort Lauderdale offers Turtle Walks. Beginning at the museum, children can get a close look at visible nest, a "Turtle Touch" and camera's eye view of the nesting rite. Then it's off to the beach to tread silently in search of turtle tracks and to watch Loggerhead sea turtles venture ashore to lay their eggs. Programs start at the museum at 9 p.m. For more information, visit the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science website (www.mods.org) or call (954) 713-0930.