SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Beautiful sunsets, sea breezes and ocean tides are not the only reasons why the Peach State’s coast is special.

Coastal Georgia is home to reptiles that have existed for over a hundred million years — sea turtles.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, nearly all species of sea turtles are endangered.  

Five of only seven species of sea turtles globally are native to Georgia: the green turtle (endangered), leatherback (vulnerable), Kemp’s ridley (critically endangered), hawksbill (critically endangered) and the loggerhead (vulnerable).

The loggerhead commonly makes Georgia’s barrier islands home to keep its eggs safe. In return, nesting sea turtles help Georgia’s coast by depositing their eggs in the sand. 

Eggshells and unhatched eggs left behind provide important minerals that sustain dune vegetation such as beach grasses, which stabilize dunes and help to prevent coastal erosion.

As turtle nesting season approaches in May and runs until mid-August, it is important to keep beaches clean so that sea turtles, time-honored creatures, can continue existing.

Here are some ways to keep beaches safe for sea turtle nesting:

  1. Recycle glass, plastic and aluminum
  2. Fill in holes on the beach and collapse sandcastles
  3. Remove furniture and recreational equipment from the beach at night
  4. Pick up trash
  5. Keep dogs on leashes and clean up after them
  6. Keep recreational sports equipment secured and off of the sand
  7. Turn off beach lights or use turtle-friendly lights at night
  8. Stay away, and avoid contact with nesting turtles, nests or hatchlings

Remember to report any dead, sick or injured sea turtles to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Marine Resources Division at 912-280-6892. You can also call the Stranding Hotline at 1-800-2-Save-Me (1-800-272-8363)

For more information about sea turtles, visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center or the World Wildlife Fund.