May 1, that magical date, is at hand! It’s magical because that’s the official date that sea-turtle nesting season begins. And, once you become acquainted with the story of how the mature female comes onto our beaches to make a nest for the precious eggs she’s carrying, you can’t help but be impressed and want to help out.
That’s what all the “Turtle Watch” groups are all about. Volunteers have been attending and learning at special workshops at Mote Marine Laboratory. Those walking the beaches will be looking for the tell-tale tracks made by the female sea turtles as she seeks out her nesting place.
Specially permitted Turtle Watchers will determine where a nest is and mark it and protect it with special yellow stakes. The aim is to make sure that these nestings are successful and that most of the eggs hatch successfully and the young hatchlings make it to the water.
That’s wherein the message of this year’s wonderful “Lights Out” poster (see photo) is so important. Thank you to Rick Bergere of Madison Ave. Advertising, who contributed its wonderful design, utilizing the special photo taken by Kelly Martin. They created last season’s poster as well.
Please, also note the businesses that help sponsor the turtle program and support them. Some 200 of these posters are being distributed up and down Longboat Key.
For a close-up look at two famous sea turtles, Hang Tough and Edgar, check out their new accommodations at Mote’s new sea-turtle exhibit. This is at the Ann and Alfred Goldstein Marine Mammal Research and Rehabilitation Center.
Next month, I’ll give you an update on these two well-known, local sea turtles. We all look forward to a successful and productive season. Your help in following the directions on the “Lights Out” poster will make a big difference.
Virginia Sanders is the spokesperson for the Longboat Key Turtle Conservation Program, serves on the Citizens Advisory Board of the National Estuary Program and is a Mote Marine volunteer.
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