Residents and visitors urged to ‘share the shore’ with wildlife

Bird- and turtle-nesting seasons underway on county beaches; dogs welcome only at Brohard Beach Paw Park

Sea turtle nests are marked with yellow stakes. Image courtesy Sarasota County
Sea turtle nests are marked with yellow stakes. Image courtesy Sarasota County

As summer approaches and trips to the beach become more frequent for residents as well as visitors, Sarasota County staff is reminding everyone to share the shore with native wildlife.

Beachgoers are asked to be mindful of sea turtle nests and those of shorebirds, such as the snowy plover, which use the open beach to lay their eggs, a county news release says. “Dogs can easily damage sea turtle nests and disrupt shorebird nesting,” the release points out.

Dogs can enjoy the beach at Brohard Beach Paw Park in Venice, the release notes, but not on beaches such as Siesta and Lido.

“Whether [they are] leashed or unleashed, walking dogs on the beach can be one of the most disruptive influences on shorebird nesting,” said Keri Ferenc Nelson, a wildlife specialist for the county, in the release. “When shorebirds are disturbed, they can flee and leave their eggs and chicks vulnerable to predators or extreme summer heat.”

Sea turtle nesting season typically runs from May 1 through Oct. 31. “Sarasota County beaches serve as an important nesting habitat for both the threatened loggerhead and the endangered green sea turtle,” the release adds, and they have also supported nesting of the Kemp’s ridley turtle. “Sarasota County has the highest density of sea turtle nesting on Florida’s Gulf Coast,” the release points out.

“You can do your part to protect nesting and hatchling sea turtles by knocking down sand castles, filling in holes, and removing all items from the beach each night,” the release continues. “Shield all lights that are visible from the beach and replace white light sources with yellow bug type bulbs or amber light emitting diodes (LEDs),” it adds.

For more information about Sarasota County’s dog-friendly facilities, or to learn more about the county’s sea turtle protection program and beach nesting birds, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 861-5000, or visit