Everyone who visits Florida’s Space Coast immediately becomes part of a team that helps keep this place unique and gorgeous. From the beaches to the lagoon to the ocean and animals that live and thrive within them all, our local environment is not only a priority but an integral part of the fabric that makes these communities special. When visiting, you can help a lot in a seemingly small way to keep the ecosystem flourishing for your next visit.
Protect the Sea Turtles
Let’s start with the beaches. In the summertime, these coastlines are some of the most critical nesting sites on the planet for endangered sea turtles. Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in south Melbourne Beach was established in 1989 specifically to protect these areas. Sea turtles are incredible animals that live nearly a century, can grow to the size of small cars, and were alive alongside the dinosaurs. They also nest on the same exact beach from which they emerged, which is where we, and they, need your help.
Here are some quick pointers on both observing and respecting nesting sea turtles:
- During the day, be cautious around the giant holes on the beach, which are their nests. They are easy to spot and quite fragile. Please keep a distance.
- At night, no flashes or bright lights anywhere on the beach.
- Keep lights to a minimum in any beachfront rentals or hotels. Baby sea turtles guide themselves to the ocean via light; the opposite direction is not a good start for them.
- Please don’t touch the nesting mother turtles. They don’t like it, plus it’s illegal.
Sea turtles hate trash, too. Actually, all animals and people seem to feel about the same way, particularly when it’s scattered on the pristine beaches of Florida’s Space Coast. Plastic is dangerous for all animals, but bags and balloons are especially harmful to ocean-going sea turtles as they mimic their main food source: jellyfish. But you can help here again; nearly every public beach along the coast has ample trash containers. And if you see some litter, grab it. Every little piece helps.
Some other quick and random local tips to keep Florida’s Space Coast beautiful:
- Large land crabs are becoming rare as they have to go across the barrier islands to reproduce. Be cautious when driving, and don’t pick them up and collect them.
- Bring no glass on the beach, which is just a good idea for everyone.
- Plastic straws and cigarette butts both biodegrade at an incredibly slow rate and are dangerous to native wildlife. Easy solution: paper straws and watch yer butts.
- Florida gopher tortoises are very active in the early summer months. Please, please try to be alert when driving, particularly on A1A south of 192. They are easy to spot, move slowly, and are becoming rare. They are a keystone species surviving only in Florida that live for decades and reproduce slowly.
The Indian River Lagoon can benefit from a few simple things, too. It’s a fishing treasure, but make sure to take the gear with you. Hooks, weights, and fishing line are meant for your tackle box, not the shallow waters around the IRL. What you bring to the lagoon should always come back with you.
These are all simple tips when visiting Florida’s Space Coast that, if we all commit to, will ensure that when you next visit, the seas will still sparkle and the sand on the beach will remain dazzling and safe to roll around on. And also, the turtles thank you. Trust us.