Posted On: June 13, 2024

Rare Sighting in Volusia County as Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Returns to Nest

A Kemp's ridley sea turtle, the rarest and smallest of the sea turtle species, was observed nesting in Ponce Inlet on Monday, June 10. This turtle, first tagged in 2005 by the Marine Science Center, has returned to Volusia County to nest eight times since then. She laid her first clutch of eggs this season in Ponce Inlet a few weeks ago.

Kemp's ridley turtles are unique among Florida's sea turtles because they usually nest during daylight hours. They primarily breed in Mexico, making their nesting in Florida a rare occurrence. Since 1996, only 26 Kemp's ridley nests have been recorded in Volusia County. This season, the county hosts four of these nests—three in Ponce Inlet and one in New Smyrna Beach, matching record counts from 2017 and 2023. Across the state, only 13, including the four in Volusia County, Kemp's ridley nests have been recorded as of May 31.

Overall, 283 sea turtle nests have been recorded in Volusia County this year, including four Kemp's ridley, six leatherback, one green, and 272 loggerhead nests. Hatchlings are expected to start emerging in the coming weeks.

Beachgoers should flatten sandcastles, fill in holes, and remove chairs and equipment at the end of the day to avoid obstructing nesting and hatchling sea turtles. Beachfront lighting poses a threat by deterring nesting females and disorienting hatchlings, drawing them toward danger instead of the ocean. Residents can help by redirecting lights away from the beach and turning them off when not in use, allowing natural moonlight and starlight to guide the turtles.

The sea turtle nesting season extends from May 1 through Oct. 31. For more information on Volusia County's sea turtle protection efforts or how to implement turtle-friendly lighting, call 386-238-4773. Additional details are available at