WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Sea turtle nesting season is in full swing here in the Panhandle.

Nesting and hatching season runs between May and October every year, according to Barb Van Stavern with the South Walton Turtle Watch group.

Van Stavern said South Walton has seen 36 nests, with 35 laid by loggerhead sea turtles and one laid by a green sea turtle.

She said they are seeing lower numbers of nests compared to last year, but things are starting to pick up.

“We’re starting to see more turtles coming in, so we’re in a good place right now,” Van Stavern said.

She said volunteers are on the beach every single morning during nesting season looking for nests and marking off new ones to keep them safe.

Sea turtles and their nests are federally protected by law, according to Van Stavern.

If you witness someone disturbing a sea turtle or nest, or if you see a stranded or deceased sea turtle, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission by dialing *FWC on your phone.

Learn more about the South Walton Turtle Watch group and other ways you can keep the protected species safe.