Neighbors Ensuring Sea Turtle Survival (NESTS): A Community Program To Increase Awareness And Action For The Conservation Of Sea Turtles Near The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge

Anne Savage1, Jessica Koelsch2, Daniel R. Evans,3, Lance Miller1, Alison Gordon4, Gerry Heyes5, Gary Appelson3, Kathy Lehnhardt1, Denise Leeming1, and Takako Hashimoto6
1 Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL
2 The Ocean Conservancy, St. Petersburg, FL
3 Caribbean Conservation Corporation, Gainesville, FL
4 Brevard Zoo, Melbourne, FL
5 Sea Turtle Preservation Society, Melbourne, FL
6 USFWS, Vero Beach, FL

The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge along Florida’s Atlantic Coast hosts not only the largest number of nesting sea turtles in the U.S., but also a large number of coastal residents, visitors, and businesses. As elsewhere in Florida, beachfront communities can have a tremendous impact on the success or failure of sea turtle nesting.

To increase awareness, interest, and protection of sea turtles, a new program NESTS – Neighbors Ensuring Sea Turtle Survival, was developed to work with coastal homeowners associations and individual homeowners living on Florida’s barrier islands. Program partners include Walt Disney World, The Ocean Conservancy, Caribbean Conservation Corporation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of the Carr Refuge, Brevard Zoo, Sea Turtle Preservation Society and the Florida Park Service.

The concept of NESTS is to engage individuals living in coastal areas in simple activities that will have a direct benefit to helping the survival of sea turtles and protecting their nesting habitat. Through three levels of certification (Partner, Guardian and Champion) participants have the opportunity to become directly involved, as well as engaging others in their community, through completing activities that protect sea turtles and their habitat. The first year of our program has been successful and generated considerable interest and community support.

Our hope is that NESTS will continue to grow to include additional communities that will positively impact the conservation of sea turtles and their

Abstract of poster presented at 25th International Symposium, 2005