COASTE - Summer 2018


What is the role of the Sanibel CaptivaConservation Foundation relative to sea turtles? Ms. Sloan: “Our primary efforts focus on sea turtle nest monitoring and protection. We have more than 100 volunteers who assist us throughout turtle season, May 1 to October 31, patrolling the beaches every morning looking to identify nests, place protective screening on top of the eggs to prevent mammalian predation, and conduct hatch evaluations. We’re also on the beach at night tagging turtles to study life history and migratory patterns. On Sanibel, we’ve had record breaking nest counts the last four years in a row.” What is the role of the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife? Dr. Barron: “CROW is the only licensed sea turtle facility between Sarasota and the Florida Keys to care for, or even touch, sea turtles. Obviously we’re here to help any turtle harmed by red tide poisoning, hook and line issues, boat strike traumas or other needs. But we also work with Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation and other organizations, along with our communities and leaders, to educate the public on turtle protection.” And the results have been outstanding recently? Ms. Sloan: “Four record breaking years the last four years. Last season, that totaled 650 loggerhead sea turtle nests and 33 green sea turtle nests on Sanibel Island alone. Last year at least 44,000 hatchlings emerged from nests on our beaches — over than 20,000 more than ever before! Prior to 2013 there were very few green sea turtles on the west coast of Florida. The increase we’ve seen in the past five years is very exciting; we really don’t know where they’re coming from or where they’re going from here but we have learned a lot with our satellite telemetry project.” Why are these efforts so important to the turtle species? Dr. Barron: “Females will nest multiple nests in a season, sometimes up to three clutches of maybe 100 eggs each. Of these, only one or two turtles will survive to birthing maturity, which is in the teens of years. Therefore, it’s vital we do all we can to enable these wonderful creatures to nest safely, and see their hatchlings return to the sea, and when needed provide the care injured or sick turtles need to recover and return to their habitat.” What can we as residents and guests do to help? Dr. Barron: “If you live on or near the beach, move anything like chairs, boats, toys or other items that might impede a turtle’s journey inward; it’s also a law. Dogs and cats should be leashed so they don’t harm nests. Don’t ever mess with a nest. And never approach a nesting turtle, you’ll likely scare it off.” Ms. Sloan: “I think our area does an amazing job of making wildlife a priority, but with the high visitor turnover, we have to work hard to keep educating everyone. Artificial lighting is one of the biggest threats to sea turtles on our beaches, so remember to turn off all lights that are visible from the beach.”






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