Beach development and environmental changes affect turtle nesting numbers from year to year. Turtles come back to the same area where they were born but when the beach is changed in some way, the turtle knows it and many times will come ashore only to leave again without depositing any eggs because the environment has changed. Erosion and light pollution have all impacted negatively upon the nesting process.
The female turtles come ashore at night - usually at high tides caused by new or full moons. They dig holes about two feet deep, deposit the eggs, cover the nest with sand and crawl back into the ocean – never to see their young. Each female may nest two or three times in a season. After an incubation period of 45-55 days, eggs hatch in the cooler night hours making it easier for the babies to push up through the sand. The baby turtles are drawn to the light of the ocean due to moon reflection, and if they can make it to the water, they'll have a chance to live.
In some areas, babies become disoriented due to artificial light from street lamps or nearby buildings like high-rise condos and end up going the wrong way — never making it to water. Because of that, many Broward beachfront communities have enacted laws to create shields over lighting to keep beaches dark and help protect turtles. Each baby turtle needs to crawl to the ocean on its own because that process links the turtle to its birthing beach to which it may some day return. If the baby makes it to the ocean and survives its first year, chances are good it will grow to adulthood. Females will give birth in 15 or so years. Turtles may live anywhere from 30 to 50 years and they've been around for 150 million years.