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DESCRIPTION: The Georgia Sea Turtle Center’s (GSTC) Ride with Dawn Patrol program offers participants the unique opportunity to assist sea turtle biologists with nest monitoring efforts on Jekyll Island. The morning will be spent patrolling Jekyll Island’s beaches on all-terrain vehicles locating and protecting nests, checking for signs of predators, and conducting nest inventories. The opportunity to work alongside a seasoned sea turtle biologist and contribute to efforts to protect the sea turtle population on Jekyll Island will make this a worthwhile experience one will never forget.

Frequently Asked Questions

COST: $150 per person + applicable tax (10% discount for GSTC members & Sea Turtle Camp kids)


PROGRAM DATES: August through September. Reservations must be made at least 72 hours prior to your program.

DURATION: 2 to 6 hours or until the patrol is complete.  Participants will have the option of staying out on the beach as long as biologist are patrolling. Our research biologists are prepared to accommodate participants during this entire time.

LOCATION: Participants will meet the patrol staff at Great Dunes Pavilion. Please bring your receipt to confirm your reserved seat.

MEETING TIME: 6:45 A.M.; patrol starts promptly at 7:00 A.M.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS: Must be able to walk at least 1 mile and up to 4 miles. Tolerance of hot, humid, buggy, and windy conditions is required.

AGE LIMIT: Participants must be at least 6 years old. Must be able to tolerate extreme heat. All minors under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult.

PROPER ATTIRE: Weather on the beach can vary from being sunny and humid to windy and rainy. Additionally, biting insects have the potential to be present in large numbers. For these reasons, we recommended that participants wear shorts, closed-toed shoes, a hat, and sunglasses. In case of inclement weather, participants may also want to bring a rain jacket.


To ensure an enjoyable experience, a few items may be leant to guests. These items include:

  • Insect repellent
  • Suncreen
  • Sea turtle patrol vests



Participants are encouraged to bring the following:

  • Water (at least 2 liters)
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Food (we recommend bringing a lot of snacks to eat throughout the morning)
  • Jacket or rain coat (we do not stop patrolling if it rains)
  • Camera



Throughout the morning survey, participants will be allowed to do the following:

  • Cover and mark sea turtle nests
  • Take habitat measurements, such as the distance from the nest to water line
  • Take notes on our datasheets
  • Record the GPS location of false crawls and nests
  • Shoot photographs under staff supervision


Performing the following activities during patrol is grounds for immediate dismissal with no refund:

  • Unauthorized handling or harassment of sea turtles
  • Operate the vehicles at any given time



The Great Dunes Pavilion is located on Beachview Drive just north of the Convention Center. 

Directions: As you are coming onto Jekyll Island from the Downing-Musgrove Causeway, continue straight until you get to the traffic circle by the gas station. In the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit (the equivalent of a left turn), which will put you on Beachview Drive heading north. Almost immediately after exiting the traffic circle you will pass the Convention Center entrance which has an electronic sign. A minute or so later you will see signs on your right for Great Dunes Park. Turn right into the parking lot and look for the large open-air pavilion next to a set of bathrooms (see photo inset on map). The patrol team will meet you there in a UTV labeled with the Jekyll Island Authority logo, so it will be very recognizable. The patrol vehicles will depart on time at 7:00 A.M.


  • Participants are expected to be in good physical shape to complete the tasks required of sea turtle biologists. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is not responsible for any injury or complication that arises during physical exertion.
  • Vehicle safety will be discussed prior to entering any vehicle. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is not responsible for injuries that occur due to inappropriate behavior or disregard for rules.

GUARANTEE: Female adult loggerhead sea turtles lay their nests at night. Additionally, hatchlings emerge during the evening and are rarely seen during morning hours. Although the Ride with Dawn Patrol program is only offered during the peak hatching season when hatched nests are inventoried, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center does not guarantee that participants will observe a sea turtle while participating in the program. This research involves observing natural sea turtle nests and researchers have no control over hatchling activity. Sea turtle hatchling emergence from the nest is influenced by many factors, many of which are still unknown to science. As such, no predictions or guarantees can be made concerning the appearance of sea turtles on Jekyll Island beaches.


  1. The Ride with Dawn Patrol program will not be cancelled in the event of poor or inclement weather. Exceptions may occur in certain circumstances when conditions are not safe, such as sustained lightning or a tropical storm. Unless GSTC staff notifies participants of a cancellation, the program will continue as scheduled. If a cancellation is made based on unsafe weather conditions, participants will be notified of the changes as soon as possible. Participants will be offered an opportunity for a full refund or to reschedule.
  2. If a participant spends less than 1 hour in the field due to cancellation caused by unsafe weather or some other unforeseen circumstance, they will be offered a 50% refund or a chance to reschedule at half-price.
  3. If a participant spends more than 1 hour in the field, they will not be offered a refund in the event of unsafe weather or some other unforeseen circumstance.

PHONE: (912) 635-4141


*Reservations for Ride with Dawn Patrol are available from August-September, based on research staff availability.

Please note, reservations are not secure until payment is processed.

Below are photos from past participants in the Ride with Dawn Patrol program.