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How to View Sea Turtles in Florida—Without Disturbing Them

Spring is the season when sea turtles start showing up on Florida beaches to nest and lay eggs at night—an annual ritual that carries into the fall. Baby turtles hatch after 60 days or so, whereupon they totter adorably to the sea.

Much can go wrong: Nesting requires darkness and quiet, and many of the little ones won't be strong enough to make it to the water or they'll get picked off by predators. 

For those reasons, it's a crime to disturb nests or harass turtles. Humans are advised to keep their distance and avoid shining lights of any kind near the animals—and that includes flashes from cell phones and cameras. 

There is, however, a non-disruptive way to observe nesting areas in Florida.  

You can sign up for a public turtle watch led by an expert guide with a permit for this very purpose. Tours take place in the evenings at beaches along the state's Atlantic coast, from Canaveral National Seashore to the Miami area.

You'll want to register in advance because tours tend to fill up quickly. See the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website for more info.