Beach cleaning involves the removal of material left by the
tides or beach goers on Florida's sandy shorelines. Stranded
seaweed provides an important food source for beach and near-shore
food chains, and should be left in place when possible. Human
debris can pose a hazard to humans and animals, and should be
removed. The use of mechanized beach cleaning equipment is limited
during certain times of the year when threatened and endangered sea
turtles are nesting. Those beach cleaners willing to commit to
special protections for sea turtles can continue to operate and
share the beach with Florida's sea turtles
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
regulates mechanized beach cleaning under the Florida Beach & Shore Preservation Act,
Florida Statute 161. In order for beach cleaning to occur
during nesting season, FWC and DEP have developed special
conditions to protect marine turtles, their nests and hatchlings.
In higher density areas where marking every nest is not feasible,
non-mechanical methods of cleaning, such as hand raking, may be
Beach Cleaning Conditions - Brevard through Broward and
Because of the high density of turtle nests in Brevard through
Broward Counties, special protection measures are required during
the sea turtle nesting season (March 1 through October 31) to
Cleaning can only occur seaward of the high tide line and only
during the day.
Cleaning can only occur after a Marine Turtle Permit Holder
authorized by FWC
has surveyed the beach for sea turtle nests .
It is the beach cleaner's responsibility to contract with a
Permit Holder to conduct
nesting surveys during nesting season.
If no surveys are done, no cleaning can occur for up to 65 days
or until after
the end of the nesting season.
The Permit Holder must mark all nests within 10 feet of the high
Only equipment with 10-PSI tire pressure can operate on the
Cleaning equipment must not penetrate more than two inches into
the beach surface.
All material collected must be removed from the beach.
Cleaning equipment must stay at least 10 feet from salt-tolerant
Beach Cleaning Permit Conditions - For All Counties Excluding
Brevard Through Broward And Monroe County (8/15/96) (07/02/02)
During the marine turtle nesting season (May 1 to October 31),
mechanical beach cleaning activities shall be confined to daylight
hours (sunrise to sunset).
During marine turtle nesting season (May 1 to October 31), the
permittee is responsible for ensuring that a daily marine turtle
nest survey, protection, and monitoring program is conducted
throughout the permitted beach cleaning area. Such surveys
and associated conservation measures shall be completed after
sunrise and prior to the commencement of any mechanical beach
cleaning. The marine turtle survey, protection, and
monitoring program shall be conducted only by individuals
possessing appropriate expertise in the protocol being followed and
a valid F.A.C. Rule 68E-1 Permit issued by the Florida Fish &
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
In the event that mechanical beach cleaning occurs prior to
completion of the marine turtle nest survey, protection, and
monitoring program, mechanical beach cleaning shall not occur
landward of the wrack or debris line on that beach until 65 days
have passed or after November 30, whichever is earlier. The
permittee shall contact the Marine Turtle Permit Holder prior to
reinitiating mechanical beach cleaning in that area.
All nests left in place shall be marked with a circle of tape or
string having a radius of at least three (3) feet, centered at the
approximated location of the clutch. An additional marker
shall be placed at the base of the dune or seawall to ensure that
future location of the nests will be possible should the on-beach
markings be lost. No mechanical cleaning equipment is allowed
inside of this circle; however, careful removal of material by hand
is allowed. All equipment operators should be briefed
on the types of marking utilized and should be able to easily
contact the individual responsible for the nest survey to verify
any questionable areas.
In the event that on-beach nest markers are lost for any reason,
including vandalism or high water conditions, no mechanical beach
cleaning shall be conducted until the marine turtle permit holder
identifies the nest and restores the markers. In the event
that the nest cannot be found and may have been lost during high
water conditions, the permittee shall contact FWC staff at (850)
922-4330 to determine if mechanical beach cleaning can
resume. All marine turtle protection conditions shall remain
in effect unless specifically waived in writing by FWC.
In order to avoid adverse impacts in the event that cleaning
accidentally occurs over a nest, mechanical beach cleaning
equipment shall not penetrate more than two inches into the surface
of the beach. This permit authorizes the use of a vehicle
with a maximum tire pressure of 10 p.s.i. and a rake or cleaning
apparatus that limits penetration into the surface of the beach to
a maximum of two inches. Box blades and front or rear mounted
blades are not authorized. No other types of vehicles may be
operated on the beach pursuant to this permit. Mechanized
beach cleaning shall be accomplished so that no ruts are formed on
Burial or storage of any debris (biotic or abiotic) collected is
prohibited seaward of the 50 foot setback. Removal of
accumulated debris from the beach must occur immediately after
cleaning has been performed.
Operators of mechanical beach cleaning equipment shall avoid all
native, salt tolerant dune vegetation by a minimum of 10 feet.
Beach Cleaning Common Questions:
What authorizations do I need to beach
To clean the beach using mechanized equipment, you need a permit
from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. You may
also need a permit from your County or City.
Where is sea turtle nesting habitat?
Nesting habitat includes all sandy beaches adjoining the waters
of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Straits of
Florida in all coastal counties and all inlet shorelines of those
beaches (F.A.C. 62B-55.003). On the beach, nesting habitat extends
from the high tide line to the top of the dune or seawall.
When is sea turtle nesting season?
Sea turtle nesting season starts March 1 in Brevard through
Broward Counties (where most leatherback nesting occurs). In all
other counties, May 1 is the start of sea turtle nesting season.
Although most nesting is finished by September, the nesting season
extends through October 31, when most eggs have hatched (F.A.C. 62B-55).
Can I bury seaweed on the beach?
You may request to bury organic matter in the wet portion of the
beach on an ebb tide. All other material must be removed
immediately from the beach.
Why can't I just avoid the turtle crawls?
Data on the number of sea turtle emergences are used to
determine the "status" of sea turtle species whether they're
endangered or threatened. The state has worked hard to standardize
their survey procedures to provide the best data possible. It is
impossible to assess turtle tracks, or to determine whether the
turtle nested or not, on a beach after mechanical cleaning has