Turtle-safe toy box lands at Cabana Beach Club on Longboat Key
Caleb Jameson has built his sixth turtle toy box since 2018.
| 2:26 p.m. September 15, 2021
Caleb Jameson and Gail Hochanadel hope an extra-large toy box will lead to extra-safe turtles.
Jameson installed one of his lattice-and-PVC boxes at Cabana Beach Club on Sept. 10 for beachgoers and resort workers to store wayward beach gear rather than leaving scattered umbrellas and floats on the sand to possibly impede or harm a nesting sea turtle.
Hochanadel, secretary and treasurer at Cabana Beach Club, commissioned the large box because she said they tend to have a lot of larger items left behind. Jameson designed the large box with extra supports underneath so it won’t sag with the weight of those big beach accoutrements. It also has a sign explaining the box's purpose in protecting sea turtles.
“They’re the kinds of things that people tend to leave behind, and then there’s nowhere for us to put them,” Hochanadel said.
It’s light enough that Hochanadel can move it around or indoors in case of a storm. Hochanadel hopes the box will become a storage space for guests’ short-term-use beach toys that sometimes get left on the sand.
“We are very conscientious about bringing everything off the beach,” Hochanadel said.
Among the town's new turtle-preservation rules taking effect in the 2022 nesting season is a provision requiring temporary structures or portable recreation equipment to be farther than 5 feet of marked marine turtle nests.
The first was at Casa del Mar in 2018, which he built and designed with a grant from Klean Kanteen.
Jameson is a member of the Longboat Key Turtle Watch and noticed a lot of beach toys left behind. Those then get pulled out to sea and broken up into tiny plastic bits, which turtles can eat. Jameson noticed a lot of family traffic at Casa del Mar, so he installed his first one there. In February 2020, J. McLaughlin on Longboat Key hosted a Sip and Shop that brought in funds for Jameson to build more boxes.
Since developing his design in 2018, Jameson has started a website, TurtleSafeToyBox.org, that has instructional videos for people to build their own boxes. Alternatively, people can request Jameson to build one.