Sea Turtle

Sea TurtleThe 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.


  1. Sea Turtle Activity Book
  2. Sea Turtle Help Important Numbers

Florida Manatee

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).

Sarasota County’s 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.

Manatees are also protected under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, the Florida Endangered and Threatened Species Rule, the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act and the U.S. Endangered Species Act.


State and Federally-Protected Species

Developing or building in Sarasota County? You may need to consider the following species before you begin.

Bald Eagle

Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission before development begins if development is planned within 660 feet of a nest. The property owner may need Federal or State issued bald eagle permits.

Contact Info: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Eagle Plan Coordinator: or (941) 894-6675. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Eagle Permit Information: (404) 679-4163.


  1. Permitting and Regulations Quick Reference Guide
  2. USFWS National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines
  3. FWC Bald Eagle Management Plan
  4. Bald Eagle Nest Locator Map


Gopher Tortoise

Gopher TortoiseContact 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.


  1. FWC Tortoise Permit Guidelines
  2. FWC General Permitting System
  3. Environmental Consultants List


Florida Scrub-jay

Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) if the proposed development is on land within scrub habitat and the parcel is at least one acre, or is within an 850-ft radius of a known Florida scrub-jay family. 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.


  1. Search for Parcels within Scrub Habitat


Snowey Plover and Chick on Siesta Beach

Snowy Plover

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.


  1. Florida Shorebird Alliance
  2. Florida Audubon