The Sarasota County Marine Turtle Protection Ordinance(MTPO) was adopted in 1997 to protect nesting and hatching sea turtles from artificial light and obstructions on the beach.
- Artificial light draws turtles away from the water which can lead to death or injury.
- The county enforces the code on unincorporated county beaches and in the city of Sarasota during nesting season, May 1 - Oct. 31.
- The MTPO requires that lighting visible from the beach is shielded and that long-wavelength turtle-safe bulbs are used.
- See the document for resources related to turtle-safe lighting.
- The ordinance also prohibits furniture and recreational items on the beach overnight except where a Recreational Use Agreement has been issued.
- These items can trap turtles causing injury or harm.
In addition to the MTPO, all sea turtle species found in Florida waters are protected under the Marine Turtle Protection Act and the Florida Endangered and Threatened Species Rule, and under the Federal U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Sarasota County is one of 13 counties designated as a priority protection site for manatees and is required by Florida Statutes to develop a Manatee Protection Plan (MPP).
reduces the likelihood of boat-manatee interactions. In accordance with the Manatee Protection Plan Implementation Code, if a development proposal includes spaces for or more motorized boats (wet or dry slips), a county MPP review is required. The MPP does not apply to single-family docks.
State and Federally-Protected Species
Developing or building in Sarasota County? You may need to consider the following species before you begin.
Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before development begins if development is planned within 660 feet of a nest. The property owner may need a Federal bald eagle permit.
Contact Info: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Office: (404) 679-7070 or permitsR4MB@fws.gov.
- Permitting and Regulations Quick Reference Guide
- USFWS National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines
- FWC Bald Eagle Management Plan
- Bald Eagle Nest Locator Map
Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) if the proposed activity is within 25-feet of a gopher tortoise burrow. FWC may require a gopher tortoise relocation permit before construction begins as outlined in the Gopher Tortoise Management Plan.
Please don't place a Gopher Tortoise or hatchlings in the water. Gopher tortoises cannot swim well and can easily drown.
- Gopher tortoises can be distinguished from sea turtles by their limbs.
- Gopher tortoises have toes with claws on each toe, while sea turtles have flippers with only one or two claws on each foreflipper.
Florida scrub-jays are protected by the Endangered Species Act. Prior to conducting any activities that could disturb scrub-jays or their habitat, applicants for development orders are required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and provide documentation of such coordination to the County.
To determine if a property is required to coordinate with the USFWS, please search the Parcel Identification List provided in the link below. Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at 772-562-3909 if the proposed development is located on a parcel included in this list.
Once a County building, earthmoving or tree removal permit is in process, USFWS reviews the proposal and identifies potential negative effects to the birds. If impacts are identified, strategies for avoidance, minimization or mitigation of these impacts are required by USFWS.
Please note that this parcel list may be updated from time to time. Further, coordination with the USFWS may be required if verified survey information, or County, State or Federal personnel observations indicate use of a parcel by Florida scrub-jays. Contact the Environmental Protection Division at 941-861-5000 for additional information or with any questions about this process.
Sarasota County’s Snowy Plover Adaptive Management Plan aims to protect critical habitat on county managed land by directing human activity away from nesting sites and minimize opportunities for predators by relocating trash cans away from the open beach.