Since this season’s sea turtle-nest season began, the Longboat Key audiences for nest excavations have grown. In July, the Longboat Key Turtle Watch experienced its largest crowd for an excavation —more than 400 people were in attendance.
The amount of participants showing up at the excavations has not dwindled since, with nest openings attracting an average of 300 onlookers each time.
But that’s about to change.
Due to the large numbers gathering on the beach for these excavations, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has stepped in and asked the Longboat Key Turtle Watch to limit the number of participants at its nest-opening activities.
To adhere to the request and draw smaller audiences, the Longboat Key Turtle Watch has reduced the number of places it publicizes nest openings, and it is holding openings at nests in areas where large crowds are not likely to form.
The Longboat Key Turtle Watch feels that for the educational awareness to be a good takeaway message, the audience at the nest openings must be smaller, but not non-existent.
“We want to have all who are participating get as much out of the opportunity as possible,” says Cyndi Seamon, a Turtle Watch volunteer.
Not every turtle-patrol organization that holds a Mote Marine Laboratory Turtle Permit advertises and invites the public to attend nest openings. The Longboat Key Turtle Watch is one of the only groups in the state that has publically promoted and conducted excavations.
The Longboat Key Turtle Watch developed the excavation program through a coordinated subgroup of Mote Marine Laboratory volunteers, which patrols the northern end of Longboat Key.
“Public education is still very important to Mote,” said Hayley Rutger, public relations coordinator at Mote Marine. “We are grateful for the Turtle Watch’s ability to carry out their programs at the northern end of the Key.”
Contact Heather Merriman at [email protected].