including ATVs, on the beach can destroy wildlife habitat and be
harmful or fatal to wildlife. This is one reason that, in many
areas, beach-driving is strictly prohibited year-round to all but
The eggs and flightless young of beach-nesting
birds can be virtually invisible, especially from a vehicle. Sea
turtles coming ashore to nest may be scared away by vehicles and
hatchlings are vulnerable to being run over. Both adult and
hatchling sea turtles can be disoriented by any form of artificial
light, including headlights. Ruts made by vehicles can trap and
disorient turtle hatchlings and baby birds.
May through October is considered sea turtle
nesting season. However, some species of sea turtles have been
known to nest as early as February, and hatchlings can emerge from
their nests as late as the mid-winter months.
Beach-nesting birds may be active from mid-February
through the end of August.
Therefore it is best to avoid beach-driving
whenever feasible and critical that everyone authorized to operate
a vehicle on the beach during these periods of the year take the
- Enter the beach only at designated access points and proceed
directly to the hard-packed sand near or below the high tide line.
Avoid driving on the upper beach whenever possible, and never drive
over any dunes or over beach vegetation. If beach conditions
require driving above the high tide line, avoid those areas with
known sea turtle nests or shorebird breeding areas.
- Avoid the wrack
line or areas of dense seaweed, which may contain sea turtle
hatchlings or baby birds.
- Minimize ruts on the dry sandy beach by lowering tire pressure
and using 4WD, particularly in front of sea turtle or bird
- Drive slowly. Movement should be slow enough to observe any
bird eggs, chicks, or sea turtle hatchlings in the vehicle's line
of travel. Please be aware that recently hatched chicks often feed
along the water's edge. They may freeze in place rather than run
away when ATVs or other vehicles approach.
- Whenever possible, avoid driving on the beach at night.
- Do not park vehicles adjacent to nests or posted areas, and, if
you must drive on the beach at night, turn headlights off when
- If you observe a sea turtle crawling out of the surf, stop the
vehicle and turn off all lights. No additional movement should
occur until the turtle moves across the beach and begins digging
her nest or moves into deeper water.
Practices for Operating Vehicles on the Beach