As turtle season winds down, the loyal beach cleaners are starting to gear up for their season. Keep Manatee Beautiful and the Longboat Key Turtle Watch hosted their first off-season community beach cleanup on Sept. 25.
During the months that sea turtles are not laying eggs on Longboat Key beaches, the groups organize their volunteers for a monthly patrol to keep the beach clean. During turtle season, which runs from the beginning of May to the end of October, the Turtle Watch volunteers who patrol pick up trash while they're walking from nest to nest.
Turtle season isn't over yet, but activity is low this time of year, so there are fewer patrollers on the beach every morning. Volunteer Suzy Mitchell said that two weeks after the last turtle activity, meaning a false crawl or a nest, Turtle Watch moves to spot-checking existing nests only. Usually by this time of year, they've moved to spot-checking, which is why the cleanup was organized.
Mitchell patrols the area on Fridays, and said she and her fellow watchers keep it pretty clean. There was little excess trash to be found in her line of Longboat, which started at the Gulfside beach access. Olga Stokes and Carlyn Vigil, who patrolled the stretch north of Mitchell's, said they found mostly bits of styrofoam and cigarette butts.