Sea turtle nesting season runs May through October on Amelia Island, Florida.
There have been 130 nests marked through July 10, 2013 on Amelia Island. Plus 37 false crawls (i.e. turtles have journeyed ashore, but gone back to sea without nesting, (see example of a classic U-turn photo further below). Beach monitoring (searching for turtle tracks and evidence of a nest), and recording of nesting data is done by local volunteer group, Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch.
Female sea turtles come ashore during the night and almost always get back to the sea before sunrise. Early morning beachcombers sometimes discover turtle tracks in the sand. But on rare occasions, a female sea turtle may be spotted on the beach. If you happen upon one, please stay a distance from the nesting turtle (and don’t use flash photography).
The bulk of the nesting occurs during June and July. Sea turtle nest excavations typically begin around mid-July, and during an active year with lots of nests, can be fairly frequent summer evening events through September. Volunteers excavate sea turtle nests after a 50 to 60 day monitoring period, when it has been determined that a sea turtle nest has hatched (as evidenced by tiny hatchling tracks in the sand from a nest hollow). The tiny baby turtles typically leave the nest as a group at night and head to the sea. Occasionally, some hatchlings don’t make it out of the nest, left behind to be discovered by volunteers during excavation. The turtle digs often take place in the evenings around 7 pm.
Amelia Island Living eMagazine has published several articles about sea turtle nesting, see more photos and info at these links:
Watch A Sea Turtle Nest Excavation on Amelia Island
Amelia Island Sea Turtle Nests 2011
Love the Beach and Sea Turtles? Amelia Island Turtle Trot
Amelia Island Sea Turtle Nesting Bountiful in 2010 (includes video)