The Truth About Sea Turtles in South Walton - 30A

The Truth About Sea Turtles in South Walton

While thousands of beachgoers share the beaches of 30A with each other every year, many may not know they are also sharing the beach with endangered sea turtles.

For 20 years, Sharon Maxwell has looked out for these magnificent creatures. When she first arrived in the 30A area, people were keeping an eye on sea turtles in neighboring communities of Panama City and Destin, but no one really even knew if sea turtles were nesting here or not. They were.

Posted by Nathan Frymire on Tuesday, 23 May 2017

In 2016, 57 nests were discovered. The year before that, 84. This includes three types of endangered sea turtles — the Leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley and Green — and the Loggerhead, a threatened species.

That’s an important job. Sea turtle populations have dwindled in large part due to human intrusion on the beach. 20 to 25 years after female sea turtles are born, when they are ready to lay eggs, they make their way back — sometimes from thousands of miles away — to an area close to where they hatched and first scuttled into the sea. The South Walton sea turtles born here may someday need to return.

“The only place the sea turtle can ever nest is on sandy beaches like where they were born,” Maxwell said.

“It’s very important that the hatchlings can walk from the nest all the way to the water. They are imprinting on the sand so they know where to come back to.”

Check out this video of the turtles hatching: