Vero Beach is a beautiful beachside oasis with a rich history and thriving wildlife. It is along the Indian River Coast that native sea turtles have been nesting for hundreds of years. Centuries later, female turtles return to the same beaches each summer to lay their eggs. We’re lucky enough to be nestled along these same sandy shores to witness this natural phenomenon.
Being so near to the Atlantic Ocean, there are a variety of turtles that call the Vero Beach region of the Florida coastline their home. Most common are Loggerhead turtles, which are named for their large, broad, and angular head. These turtles can weigh an average of 275 pounds with their shell measuring almost three feet long. Also common are the cousin Green Turtles, an even larger species with body fat of a greenish hue, Leatherback, and Hawksbill turtles. Each of these species have their own unique characteristics, diets, and behaviors but all can be found along the luscious Florida coast.
During the months between March and October, many female sea turtles make their way toward land. In the dark of night, they scale the beaches in search of the perfect spot to nest in the sand. In a dry area, the turtle then begins to burrow into the sand, creating a pit or chamber where she will lay her eggs. Once constructed and comfortable (she will flee back to the ocean if there is too much light or noise in the area) she will lay roughly 100 eggs in the sand, covering them up and camouflaging the nest as best she can. The eggs remain there for almost two months before the baby turtles emerge from the sand. Most often at night, the hatchlings band together and dig out of the nest with collective effort. Once on the open beach, they are pulled to the sea by the light of the horizon. Warding off predators and dehydration challenges the hatchlings. Should the turtles make it to the water, only one in 1,000 survive to adulthood.
This is one of the main reasons conservation sites and refugee areas like the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge to our north exist. These organizations not only protect the coasts from development and harmful human influences, but they also put together educational programs and trail walks to inform Florida visitors and residents alike about the tendencies of turtles. At Sebastian Inlet State Park, you can even take a specific Turtle Walk where you will have the opportunity to witness a female turtle lay her eggs (an instance that occurred on 38 of the 45 walks in 2018).
The Palm Island property is also only steps away from the Turtle Trail Beach Access along the Indian River. This secluded beach is open sunrise to sunset and offers a paved parking area, boardwalk access, and sneak peek into the breathtaking natural landscape that surround Palm Island Plantation. While some areas are more popular nesting grounds than others, female turtles up and down the east coast are searching for the perfect place to nest.
The sea turtle population is just one of the many natural beauties that grace the coastlines of Vero Beach. Make this lifestyle your own and head to www.palmislandplantation.com/contact.