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Mr. Robert Schonfeld

"Turtle Man "                                                                                        


Mr. Schonfeld has been a resident of South Palm Beach for 16 years, and during that time he has been conducting extensive Sea Turtle monitoring on the beaches of Palm Beach County. Mr. Schonfeld  was given the name ,"Turtle Man" because of  his dedication and designation  as the South Palm Beach Turtle Monitor and primary Permit Holder from the State of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  

Some of his responsibilities are :

  • Ensuring proper lighting outside of condominiums.
  • Relocating turtle nests from in front of stairways and putting yellow caution tape around stakes, providing diverted walkways from stairs and around  existing nests that lead to the beach.
  • Staking nests to allow for beach cleaning.
  • Allowing work to continue on seawalls during nesting season by monitoring nest sites everyday.

Mr. Schonfeld  has been involved in a number of research projects for Palm Beach County and the State of Florida as well as numerous educational activities throughout the year such as:

  • August hatchling rescues.
  • Turtle education talks for schools and non-profit groups.
  • Guided educational beach walking.

 Background Information:

Mr. Schonfeld along with Manalapan Mary walks the beach everyday at dawn during turtle season to count the number of nests and false crawls for each species.  A  false crawl is when the turtle climbs up to the beach , but for any number of reasons does not make a nest.

The arrival of each species to nest overlaps, with Leatherback turtles first, Loggerhead turtles second and Green turtles last.  When a nest is found, a stake with a DO NOT DISTURB sign is placed in front of the nest so that the beach cleaner can bring his tractor onto the beach, without disturbing it. When the beach cleaner rakes he must rake only in front of nests.

Mr. Schonfeld makes accurate records of the nestings in South Palm Beach (5/8 mile) and makes an annual report to the State of Florida. This report to the State is part of the United States Endangered Species Act which was passed in 1972 and covers both plants and animals.  The report is to show progress or decline for species from year to year.  The Loggerhead is on the threatened species list, the Leatherbacks and Greens are on the endangered species list and ALL sea turtles are protected.

He also makes sure that condominium flood lights or globes are out, and that necessary lights will be deflected away from the ocean. Turtles will not nest where lights are behind the dunes . Hatchlings instinctively head toward the moonlight and artificial light only serves to confuse them.

Mr. Schonfeld has done research for the State of Florida on sea turtle behavior and activities.  His research territory is the Town of South Palm Beach.

There are 3 types of turtles:

  • Tortoise Turtles (Land only)
  • Terrapin Turtles (Lakes and Ponds)
  • Sea Turtles (Ocean only)

There are only 7 species of Sea Turtles 3 of which come to Palm Beach County to nest. These are the Loggerhead, the Leatherback, and the Green.