When you’re joining us for a boat tour, you might get lucky and spot sea turtles before we even leave the dock on any one or our daytime tours and evening tours. We’re fortunate to have three sea turtle species that make St. Augustine waters and the Northeast Florida coast home. The Green sea turtle, the Loggerhead, and the Leatherback all call this stretch of coastline home.
Green Sea Turtles
The Green sea turtle (like the one pictured above) is one of the species you might spot near our docking location, as they prefer the protected waters of the coast, particularly where they can feed on sea grass beds. You’ll rarely spot a Green sea turtle in the open waters of the ocean.
Fun Fact: Green sea turtles get their name from the green fat under their shell.
Like Green sea turtles, Loggerhead turtles like to feed in protected waters such as estuaries. Unlike Greens, however, Loggerheads are primarily carnivorous, preferring to munch on shellfish. They also like the shallow waters of continental shelves of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.
Fun Fact: Like the Green sea turtle, Loggerheads get their name from a physical feature. For these guys, it’s their really big head.
Unlike the Green and Loggerhead turtles, the Leatherback is more at home in the open ocean, so we’re unlikely to spot one on our route through Salt Run and the Matanzas Bay. While they have been found feeding near shore, they tend to stick to open waters feeding on jellyfish.
Fun Fact: Like the Green and Loggerheads, the Leatherback gets its common name from a very unique physical feature. As described by the Sea Turtle Conservancy in its profile of the Leatherback, it’s unusual shell “is composed of a layer of thin, tough, rubbery skin, strengthened by thousands of tiny bone plates.”
Helping Sea Turtles
As with many marine species, sea turtles face a number of challenges in the wild. We can all do a little bit to help, though. Check out these ways to assist our sea turtle friends:
- Participate in Adopt-A-Nest. We’re really proud to be a 2019 corporate sponsor of the Adopt-a-Nest program from the Friends of Anastasia State Park. With turtle nesting taking place right in our local park, you can have a direct impact as an individual or a business by supporting this program.
- Learn the Do’s and Don’ts of Nesting Season. Northeast Florida is an important nesting site for all three of our native species with turtle nesting season lasting from May 1 through October 31. St. John’s County has a helpful Sea Turtle Guide to assist you.
- Check Out the Sea Turtle Conservancy. This is a great organization supporting species throughout the world. Its website has lots of information, including a list of simple ways to help.
- Be Aware When Boating. Turtles are pretty fast in the water, but boat strikes do occur. Keep an eye out and stick to channels, while avoiding boating over sea grass beds and shallow areas.