Category Archives: Florida


Ready, Set, Swim! The 13th Annual Tour de Turtles has Begun!

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) recently kicked off its 13th annual Tour de Turtles migration marathon! The Tour de Turtles is a fun, educational journey that follows the migration of sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. Through the use of satellite telemetry, STC will track 15 sea turtles, including leatherbacks, loggerheads, greens and one hybrid green/hawksbill, to determine how far they swim. The one to swim the furthest distance by October 31 “wins.”

Each turtle is also swimming to raise awareness about the threats sea turtles face. These threats include light pollution, beach erosion, marine debris, oil spills, commercial fisheries, illegal hunting, invasive species predation, climate change and more. The data collected during the Tour de Turtles helps researchers, conservationists and governing agencies make more informed decisions about sea turtle conservation methods and policies. Since the launch of the Tour de Turtles in 2008, STC has tracked more than 200 turtles.

This year’s Tour de Turtles is special for several reasons… For the first time ever, it is comprised entirely of turtles from Florida. This is also the first time STC has tracked leatherbacks from Florida, thanks to a partnership with Florida Leatherbacks, Inc. Typically the organization travels to Panama, Costa Rica, Cuba, Nevis and other international sites to satellite tag turtles but was limited to Florida due to COVID-19.

You can support the turtles by “adopting” them or sharing on social media to help raise awareness! Learn more about the turtles and follow their migrations at www.tourdeturtles.org. You can also purchase a Tour de Turtles 2020 t-shirt by clicking here or below!

Sea Turtle Grants Program Awards $340,000 to Conservation Projects in Florida

The Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), funded by the sale of Florida’s “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate, recently awarded $340,439.60 to 20 different projects benefiting Florida sea turtles as part of the 2020-2021 grant funding cycle.

Each year, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes money to coastal county governments, educational and research institutions and nonprofit groups through a competitive application process. The sea turtle specialty license plate is also the primary source of funding for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Turtle Protection Program.

The following organizations received grants for their approved projects for the 2020-2021 cycle:

The sea turtle plate is the number two overall selling specialty tag in Florida, and the number one environmental specialty plate. By purchasing the sea turtle specialty license plate, Floridians are voluntarily funding important programs to save endangered sea turtles and their habitats.

To learn more about the Sea Turtle Grants Program and the “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate, please visit www.helpingseaturtles.org.

FL ACTION ALERT! Help Save Brevard’s Remaining Heritage and Specimen Trees!

**UPDATE: Unfortunately, the public lost the vote, 3-2. Thank you to everyone who sent emails, made calls and attended the meeting. 15 people spoke for the changes, and 1 developer spoke against them. If nature and conservation groups unite to make changes to the local government, we have a chance of preserving a legacy for future generations….otherwise, it will only get worse, and all the work we’ve done will be for naught. “They paved paradise, put up a parking lot” as Joni Mitchell sang in 1970.**

———-

There is a rare opportunity to reduce the impact of a highly destructive “loophole” in Brevard’s laws governing Specimen and Heritage trees at an upcoming commission meeting.

Before It’s Too Late! Let’s Save Brevard’s Remaining HERITAGE and SPECIMEN Trees

Why would Brevard County adopt a thorough, 28-page Land Clearing and Tree Protection Policy and include a single sentence, in Section 62-4334, that EXEMPTS 299,508 properties (90%) from following the policy? The result is that a large part of our county’s tree canopy (any property less than one and one-quarter acres), including heritage and specimen trees, can be clear cut at the whim of owners. Think about that for a minute…

Towering 100-year-old Live Oaks, Pin Oaks and Scrub Oaks are being cut down every day. 50-foot tall Sea Grapes, Coconut Palms, Bottle Palms, Royal Palms, Washingtonians and any other trees can be cut down for any reason, or no reason at all, under Brevard county law … No Permits Required!

This Brevard Co. property clear cut and replaced native trees with grass and pavers, which will now funnel even small amounts of rain and flooding first to A1A, and then the Indian River Lagoon.

After extensive discussions with Brevard County Commissioners and Natural Resources staff about the best means to reduce this destruction, the Commissioners will be voting Tuesday, March 10, on a “Legislative Intent” to amend the Specimen tree ordinance. This amendment reduces the exempt properties from 1 ¼ acres to 1/4 acres and achieves the following:

  1. Reduce the number of properties where Heritage and Specimen trees can be cut.
  2. Save thousands of trees.
  3. Preserve habitat and wildlife.
  4. Reduce harmful run-off into the Indian River Lagoon.
  5. Reduce flooding from run-off
  6. Align Brevard’s Tree Clearing Policy with the President’s Trillion Tree Initiative.
  7. Preserve the beautiful views in our neighborhoods and on Highway A1A, Brevard’s only Federal Scenic roadway.

Sea Turtle Conservancy strongly supports this proposed revision to Brevard County’s tree ordinance, which would remove an exemption that allows many beachfront property owners to indiscriminately chop down large coastal scrub oaks, mature sea grape trees and other large coastal trees that play a critical role in stabilizing dune habitat and minimizing erosion following storms. The coastal vegetation to be protected by this new ordinance also helps shield important sea turtle nesting sites from artificial light coming from beachfront developments. In short, this revised ordinance will help protect some of the most important sea turtle nesting habitat in the world from the reckless removal and clear-cutting of coastal vegetation – a practice that worsens the rate of coastal erosion, especially in a time of increased storm activity and sea level rise associated with climate change, and exposes sea turtles and their hatchlings to greater levels of light pollution.

Join us at the meeting to show your support!

Meeting Date: Tuesday, March 10 @ 5pm

Location: Brevard County Gov’t Center, 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Bldg C, Viera

 

E-mails are very important if you are unable to attend the meeting. You do NOT have to be a resident of Brevard County to speak up about this issue. Please pick any or all of the 7 items above as the basis of and e-mail to all 5 Commissioners:

I Support an Amendment to reduce to 1/4 acres, or eliminate, the exemption on the cutting of our trees in Section 62-4334 of Brevard Code.

E-Mail to: d1.commissioner@brevardcounty.us for Rita Prichett 321-607-6901

d2.commissioner@brevardcounty.us for Brian Lober 321-454-6601

d3.commissioner@brevardcounty.us for John Tobia 321-633-2075

d4.commissioner@brevardcounty.us for Curt Smith 321-633-2044

d5.commissioner@brevardcounty.us for Kristine Isnardi 321-253-6611

Together we can make this happen!

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Senior Accountant **POSITION FILLED**

**POSITION FILLED**

Job Announcement: Senior Accountant

Overview and Purpose

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is based in Gainesville, Florida, and was founded by renowned sea turtle expert Dr. Archie Carr.  STC is the oldest and one of the most accomplished sea turtle conservation organizations in the world.  STC is hiring a Senior Accountant to assist the STC Controller in managing and accounting for projects in the US, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Caribbean.

Duties and Responsibilities

This position is full time, based in our Gainesville, Florida office.  Accounting tasks will be many and varied, under the direct supervision of the Controller.  They will include:

  • General Ledger
  • Accounts Payable
  • Grant administration of the Sea Turtle License Plate grant program
  • Grant administration of the NFWF Lighting and Predation grant programs
  • Grant reporting to Foundations
  • Sorting and coding reports from Costa Rica and Panama
  • Managing gift shop sales reports
  • Preparation of 990 schedules and documents
  • Payroll
  • Human resource tasks
  • Bank statement and investment reconciliation
  • Board reports
  • Budgeting
  • The senior accountant should possess the ability to work with and support the many members of our conservation team.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree with a major in Accounting or Finance.
  • Experience with non-profit accounting, grant or contract management preferred.
  • Organized and detail-oriented with the ability to simultaneously handle and prioritize multiple tasks.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Skilled with MS Office (Word, Excel).
  • Skilled with general accounting software programs such as DacEasy or Peachtree.
  • Strong conservation ethic desired.
  • Position requires US citizenship.
  • Non-Smoker

Salary and Benefits

  • Starting salary will be commensurate with experience (Range $55,000 – $65,000)
  • Fully paid employee health and dental insurance.
  • Paid holidays, vacation, and sick days.
  • Retirement plan initiated after 12 months employment.
  • Work in a flexible, yet highly motivated non-profit environment with a close-knit team of professionals committed to sea turtle conservation.

Applications will be accepted until a candidate is selected.  Apply by submitting your cover letter and resume to the Controller, Pat McCloskey, at pat@conserveturtles.org.

 

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Sea Turtle Lighting Project Specialist **POSITION FILLED**

**POSITION FILLED**

Overview and Purpose
Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is based in Gainesville, Florida, and was founded by renowned sea turtle expert Dr. Archie Carr.  STC is the oldest and one of the most accomplished sea turtle conservation organizations in the world. STC is hiring a Lighting Project Specialist to work on our Sea Turtle Lighting Project. This person will work as part of our lighting team implementing sea turtle lighting retrofits on beachfront properties in Florida, assisting with educational workshops, and coordinating dune planting projects to help further reduce lighting impacts to nesting turtles. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has funded STC’s lighting project as part of its investment toward mitigating the impacts to sea turtles caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The project’s goal is to increase sea turtle survivorship by reducing hatchling disorientation caused by lighting. The project works with private property owners to retrofit problematic beachfront lighting to sea turtle friendly alternatives using the best available technology.

Duties and Responsibilities
The primary responsibilities of this position will be implementing sea turtle lighting retrofits and dune planting projects in the south west Florida peninsula. The position will involve collection of night-time photos and lighting measurements; contract negotiations with property owners and managers; developing exterior lighting plans; communicating with property owners and lighting distributors; and data entry, management, analysis and mapping using Access, Excel and ArcGIS Online. Travel to the south west Florida peninsula and other parts of the state over 3 to 5 day periods will be required. Duties also will include coordinating travel logistics; tracking the progression of multiple projects in various stages; and conducting lighting workshops developed for code enforcement and building professionals. The position will require flexible work hours, occasionally at night and on the weekends. The Lighting Project Specialist will be based in Gainesville and work directly under the Lighting Project Manager as part of a four-person team of lighting specialists.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree with a major in wildlife conservation, policy, management, communications or similar field.
  • Experience with contract management, grant development and/or environmental regulation preferred.
  • Organized and detail-oriented with the ability to simultaneously handle and prioritize multiple tasks.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Motivated professional with an ability to work closely with others, learn new skills and follow leadership directives.
  • Skilled with MS Office (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint)
  • and familiar with ArcGIS software.
  • Passionate about the conservation of threatened and endangered species.
  • Training will be made available to the right candidate to boost knowledge about sea turtle lighting options and to improve skills in using ArcGIS.
  • Position requires US citizenship.

Salary and Benefits

  • Starting salary will be commensurate with experience (Range $35,000 – $40,000)
  • Fully paid employee health and dental insurance.
  • Paid holidays, sick time and vacation days.
  • Retirement plan initiated after 12 months of employment.
  • Work in a flexible, yet highly motivated non-profit environment with a close-knit team of professionals committed to sea turtle conservation.

Applications will be accepted until a candidate is selected. A start date prior to the end of 2019 is preferred. Apply by submitting your cover letter and résumé to the Project Manager at Rachel@conserveturtles.org.

STC Projects Benefit from Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP)

Funded by a portion of revenues from Florida’s Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes funds each year to support sea turtle research, conservation and education programs that benefit Florida sea turtles. In 2019, Sea Turtle Conservancy had two project proposals selected for funding.

2019

Green Turtle Seasonal Movements and Group Behavior in Florida’s Big Bend – $27,600.00 awarded

In the Florida Keys, green turtles have showed signs of herding or coordinated movements over seagrass habitat. It’s possible this also occurs in the Big Bend during warmer months (May–September), however, it’s unclear how frequent juvenile green turtles actually associate with each other. This project will use telemetry to determine migratory movements of juvenile green turtles due to changes in water temperatures and investigate localized group behavior during the spring, summer and fall. ARGOS satellite transmitters will be placed on juvenile green turtles that are captured at four different sites in the Big Bend. Their movement patterns will be analyzed using state-space models and ArcGIS spatial analysis tools. The results will help explain large scale seasonal movements as well as small scale group behavior that may be impacted in the future by climate change and the loss of habitat.

FWC Permit #118

Upgrading Sea Turtle Lighting Education Program – $18,930.00 awarded

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) will refurbish and update the traveling lighting displays funded by the grants program in 2014. Since their creation, the displays have successfully been hosted at facilities throughout the state of Florida and have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. The four portable displays have received considerable wear since they were first created and deployed. STC will work with the original graphics company to reprint the panel graphics; add a protective coating on each panel to prevent scratching; and repair and update damaged and outdated fixtures. Once the displays are repaired, STC will re-deploy them in high-traffic locations in southwest Florida, where STC will expand its separately-funded sea turtle lighting retrofit program. STC will also work with a video production company to create a short instructive video to further educate beachfront property owners about the importance of sea turtle lighting and how to be part of the solution. This video will be broadcast to targeted audiences in SW Florida through boosted social media postings.

To learn more about the Sea Turtle Grants program, visit www.helpingseaturtles.org.

 

Sea Turtle Nesting Season Tips & Turtle Walk Info

Photo credit: Rachel Smith

Nesting season officially kicked off on May 1st in Florida, where about 90% of sea turtle nesting in the U.S. takes place. Whether you are a Florida resident or are simply stopping by for summer vacation, this information will help you get the most out of our beautiful beaches while also being considerate of nesting sea turtles and hatchlings. Share this information with your beach-loving family and friends to ensure that our beaches can be safely and responsibly enjoyed by all!

Human threats that can interfere with the nesting and hatching process include:

  • Lights: keep them dim! Make sure that your beachfront property uses sea turtle-friendly lighting. You can also help by make sure that your drapes and blinds are closed at night to prevent sea turtles from wandering away from the ocean. Click here to learn more about STC’s Sea Turtle Friendly Lighting Program!
  • Holes: fill them in! Holes in the sand may be fun to dig during the day, but if left unfilled, nesting sea turtles and hatchlings can easily fall into them and become trapped at night. If you dig a hole or see one that has been left behind by someone else, please fill it in.
  • fwcSandcastles: knock them down! The flatter the beaches are, the easier it will be for nesting sea turtles and hatchlings to safely make it to and from the water. We know you worked very hard on your masterpiece and are sorry to see it go, but the turtles appreciate it.
  • Furniture: bring it in! You may have gotten a great spot on the beach and it may have been a lot of work to set up your chairs, umbrellas, tents, etc., but furniture left on the beach overnight can pose great danger for sea turtles. Nesting sea turtles can easily become trapped underneath these items and hatchlings can be misled by them while attempting to go to the ocean. Please keep the beaches clear and flat for sea turtles.
  • Trash and leftover food: pick it up!  Foxes, raccoon, coyotes and other animals can easily be attracted to beaches by what we leave behind. Unfortunately, they are also responsible for the destruction of thousands of sea turtle eggs each year. By leaving the beach clean you can help prevent predators from preying on sea turtle eggs and hatchlings. For more information on how you eliminate waste, visit TerraCycle.com or purchase one of our STC reusable bags.

Want a chance to see a nesting loggerhead sea turtle? Attend a Turtle Walk! STC’s Turtle Walks take place in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, starting at the Barrier Island Center in Melbourne Beach, FL. Participants have the chance to witness a nesting loggerhead sea turtle. Walks are conducted by STC on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights in June and July. Space is limited to 20 people per night. Cost is $15 per person. Click here to reserve your spot!

ACTION ALERT: Florida Bill to Prevent Straw Bans to be voted on next Monday (March 4)

ACTION ALERT: Florida Bill to Prevent Straw Bans to be voted on next Monday

Single-use plastics pose a threat to all marine life, but especially to sea turtles. Researchers from the University of Exeter recently found single use plastics and fibers in the gut of all 102 sea turtles they sampled in 2018. Without a major global effort to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

After a video of a sea turtle with a straw in its nose went viral in 2015, a global plastic-free movement has been gaining momentum. Corporations such as Starbucks, McDonald’s, Delta Airlines, and Marriott recently announced changes to their plastic policies to protect marine life. In Florida, Sea Turtle Conservancy works with coastal restaurants to change their straw policies and to empower their guests to make conservation-minded decisions. Local governments in Florida are also introducing restrictions on plastic bags and single-use cutlery.

This effort may be in jeopardy. Florida Senator Hutson filed a bill in January, Senate Bill 588, which seeks to stop local governments from passing laws to reduce plastic consumption in their communities. In particular, the bill will invalidate all existing straw bans in Florida and will prevent local governments from banning straws in the future. This bill, disguised as an effort to reduce plastic consumption, will freeze the efforts of local governments to make decisions about their own neighborhoods. You can read the bill in full by clicking here. Check out this recent article from the Tampa Bay Times for more on the issue.

Sea Turtle Conservancy does NOT support SB-588 because we SUPPORT bans of plastic bags, cutlery, Styrofoam and straws to reduce potential harm of sea turtles by marine debris. Sea Turtle Conservancy does support House Bill 6033, filed by Representative Grieco and co-sponsored by Representative Eskamani, which proposes to restore the ability for local governments to ban plastic bags.

How You Can Help

We need your help! On Monday, March 4 at 1 p.m., members of the Florida Senate’s Commerce and Tourism committee will vote on Senate Bill 588. Please let committee members know your feelings about this bill by emailing or calling them using the contact information below.

Personalized comments are the most effective, especially if any of these committee members are in your district in Florida. Here is a short example of what you can say:

“My name is _____ and I ask that you vote “No” on Senate Bill 588. I oppose Senate Bill 588 because plastic debris kills wildlife every year, including endangered sea turtles. Straw bans are an effective way to reduce plastic consumption and protect marine life from possible plastic ingestion. There is a global movement to reduce plastic use at the local, state and federal level. Senate Bill 588 will freeze that progress and prevent local governments from making decisions that impact their own communities.”

Senator Travis Hutson (bill sponsor)
(850) 487-5007
hutson.travis@flsenate.gov

Senator Victor Torres
(850) 487-5015
torres.victor@flsenate.gov

Senator Joe Gruters
(850) 487-5023
gruters.joe@flsenate.gov

Senator Linda Stewart
(850) 487-5013
stewart.linda@flsenate.gov

Senator Tom Wright
(850) 487-5014
wright.tom@flsenate.gov

NBC News: STC Helps Install New Lights Along Florida Coastline to Protect Baby Sea Turtles

STC’s Executive Director David Godfrey was recently interviewed by NBC Nightly News to discuss the importance of sea turtle friendly lighting in Florida, which STC has played a major role in implementing across the state. The story aired live on September 22, 2018 and can be viewed on NBC’s website by clicking the image below:

 

STC Lighting Project Manager Receives Lighting Specialist Certification

Sea Turtle Conservancy now has a certified Lighting Specialist I on staff! Lighting Project Manager Rachel Tighe recently received her Lighting Specialist I certification through the National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD).

 

STC Lighting Project Manager Rachel Tighe discusses a recently completed lighting retrofit with the General Manager & Operating Manager of the Holiday Inn Express Pensacola Beach.

 

The training allowed Rachel to increase her knowledge and gain expertise in lighting basics and luminaire application. This adds competence and confidence to the team and enhances STC’s ability to offer the best sea turtle friendly lighting solutions while maintaining human safety and security. We are now able to more effectively educate and communicate with property owners about the benefits of sea turtle friendly lighting.

 

The STC lighting team takes a meter reading and records the data in our online geodatabase system during a night evaluation in Perdido Key.

 

It is STC’s hope that the certification will help foster and maintain relationships with other lighting professionals in the industry. We are now better equipped to teach lighting professionals about sea turtle friendly lighting so they can better assist us in darkening sea turtle nesting habitat.

 

To learn more about STC’s Beachfront Lighting program, click here!

Tips for Sea Turtle Nesting Season May – October

It’s that time of the year again; nesting season is here in the state of Florida! The majority of nesting in Florida occurs between May 1st and October 31st.  About 90% of all sea turtle nesting in the United States takes place on Florida’s beaches, which means it is critical that residents and visitors alike do their part to ensure that sea turtles have a safe and successful nesting season. By reading the tips below, you can do your part to make sure they’re made part of your beach routine!

Loggerhead returns to sea after nesting (Photo Credit: Blair Witherington)

Loggerhead returns to sea after nesting (Photo Credit: Blair Witherington)

Use sea turtle-friendly lights or no lights at all! In order to prevent nesting and hatchling turtles from wandering off track, your beachfront property should use sea turtle friendly lighting. You can also help by closing drapes and blinds, and shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach. Sea turtle hatchlings can become easily disoriented by bright lights on the coast from hotels and beachfront properties. By following these steps, you can encourage females to nest and lead hatchlings in the right direction, the ocean!

Tracks from disoriented hatchlings. Their tracks should lead straight to the sea.

Tracks from disoriented hatchlings. Their tracks should lead straight to the sea.

Knock down sandcastles and fill in holes! Although this is every kid’s nightmare, it’s important to knock your sandcastle over and flatten out the sand at the end of the day. Additionally, filling in all holes made in the sand can avoid the entrapment of hatchlings while on their way to the water. Even the nesting mothers can become stuck in these holes when crawling up the beach to nest. Furthermore, remove all beach accessories, such as tents, umbrellas, toys, and chairs. These can prevent obstacles for both the mother and the hatchlings.

An adult loggerhead fell into a large hole on the beach and had to be rescued by Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol

An adult loggerhead fell into a large hole on the beach and had to be rescued by Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol

Avoid the attraction of unwanted pests. Raccoon, foxes, coyotes and other types of animals all have one thing in common: they love our leftovers. Raccoons destroy thousands of sea turtle eggs each year and are one of the greatest causes of sea turtle mortality on Florida’s beaches. Leaving food outside for neighborhood dogs and cats also attracts raccoons. You can help deter these animals from destroying sea turtle eggs by cleaning up food and additional trash after a day at the beach.

Program the phone number for your area’s wildlife stranding hotline into your phone so you’ll be prepared if you happen to encounter a dead, sick, stranded or injured sea turtle. It is also important to report any harassment of sea turtles or disturbance of nests. In Florida, you can call FWC Wildlife Alert Number at 1-888-404-3922 or visit their website. For other states, you can find a list of contact info here.

nesting tape FWC

Don’t interfere with the nesting or hatching process. It’s important to allow hatchlings to crawl to the water on their own. Many scientists believe the journey from nest to water allows them to imprint on their own beach. Picking up hatchlings may interfere with this process. It is also illegal to touch sea turtles under both federal and state laws.

Don’t place beach furniture too close to a marked nest. If possible, place furniture at least 5 feet away. Furniture can mislead turtles during the hatching process and also entrap them. Also make sure to put away your beach furniture at the end of the day as they become a dangerous obstacle for a nesting turtles.

Loggerhead turtle stuck under a chair that was left on the beach. Photo via Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch

Loggerhead turtle stuck under a chair that was left on the beach. Photo via Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch

Don’t use fireworks on the beach. Although this can be tempting with 4th of July right around the corner, think about how the loud noises and bright lights can disturb nesting females. Instead, many local organizations hold inland fireworks displays for your enjoyment. Bonfires on the beach also pose a danger to sea turtles.no fireworks

If you would like to watch a nesting turtle, join an organized sea turtle walk. In Florida and other states where sea turtles nest, turtle watches are conducted by trained and permitted individuals. The goal is to educate people about sea turtles through direct contact, without disturbing the turtles. Click here for more information about registering to join an STC Turtle Walk. 

Photo courtesy Greg Lovett, Palm Beach Post

Photo courtesy Greg Lovett, Palm Beach Post (taken using long-exposure, no flash)

Sea Turtle Grants Program Awards Nearly $350,000 to Research, Conservation, and Education Projects in Florida

The Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), funded by the sale of Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate, recently awarded $349,943.06 to 24 different projects benefiting Florida sea turtles as part of the 2018-2019 grant funding cycle.

Each year, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes money to coastal county governments, educational and research institutions and nonprofit groups through a competitive application process. The sea turtle specialty license plate is also the primary source of funding for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Turtle Protection Program.

The following organizations received grants for their approved projects for the 2018-2019 cycle:

The sea turtle plate is the number two overall selling specialty tag in Florida, and the number one environmental specialty plate. By purchasing the sea turtle specialty license plate, Floridians are voluntarily funding important programs to save endangered sea turtles and their habitats.

To learn more about the Sea Turtle Grants Program and the “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate, please visit www.helpingseaturtles.org.

Sea Turtle Grants Program Awards More Than $300,000 to Research, Conservation, and Education Projects in Florida

The Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), funded by the sale of Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate, recently awarded $362,564.95 to 29 different projects benefiting Florida sea turtles as part of the 2017-2018 grant funding cycle.

Each year, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes money to coastal county governments, educational and research institutions and nonprofit groups through a competitive application process. The sea turtle specialty license plate is also the primary source of funding for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Turtle Protection Program.

The following organizations received grants for their approved projects for the 2017-2018 cycle:

The sea turtle plate is the number two overall selling specialty tag in Florida, and the number one environmental specialty plate. By purchasing the sea turtle specialty license plate, Floridians are voluntarily funding important programs to save endangered sea turtles and their habitats.

To learn more about the Sea Turtle Grants Program and the “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate, please visit www.helpingseaturtles.org.

 

 

STC Releases “Ahead of the Tide,” A New Documentary About Sea Level Rise

Sea Turtle Conservancy is proud to announce the release of a new documentary about sea level rise and its implications for sea turtles and their nesting beaches in Florida. “Ahead of the Tide” (AOTT) was co-produced by STC and CAVU, a non-profit that uses flight and film to educate people about critical conservation issues. AOTT highlights the effects of sea level rise and climate change on Florida’s beaches through the stories and voices of local Floridians. The video includes interviews with scientists, coastal engineers, elected officials, coastal planners, conservation leaders, authors and activists. As part of this project STC, CAVU, and a host of conservation partners will be sponsoring a series of webinars on climate change and sea level rise in the coming months. You can learn about and sign up for these webinars at Aheadofthetide.org.

Sea level rise will have serious and long term impacts to the state’s sea turtle nesting beaches.  Our hope is that this powerful film will help to serve as a Call to Action for all Floridians to demand that our elected leaders, government agencies and coastal communities begin planning for sea level rise in order to protect Florida’s most valuable asset — its natural sandy beaches — both for sea turtles and for people. The state’s beaches belong to all Floridians; they define our state.

Sea Turtle Conservancy believes many specific actions can be taken and policies implemented to reduce the impacts of sea level rise and climate change on sea turtle nesting beaches while also helping to protect our beaches and to ensure coastal resiliency.  Most importantly, we have to start making smarter decisions about how we manage our beaches and where we build along the coast – and where we rebuild as the seas continue to rise. Of the hundreds of pages that make up Florida’s coastal development and beach management laws there is virtually no mention of sea level rise, despite the fact that Florida’s beaches are among the most vulnerable in the nation to changes in sea level. Many of Florida’s elected leaders still deny the realities of climate change and resist any effort to plan for its impacts. We hope this video will help raise awareness and empower citizens to demand that our elected officials take action.

Celebrate Endangered Species Day!

The 11th annual Endangered Species Day is May 20th, 2016! Endangered Species Day was created by Congress in an effort to raise awareness of the many endangered, threatened, and at risk species and the critical role they play in their environments.

Many zoos, parks, wildlife refuges, museums, schools and community centers, among other participants, will host educational events to  promote and celebrate Endangered Species Day and the reasons behind its creation. To find an event near you, visit http://www.endangered.org/campaigns/endangered-species-day/

esd

Endangered Species Day raises awareness about the many endangered species we have in our own communities. For example, did you know Florida has more endangered species than any other Atlantic state? Population growth coupled with habitat loss, tourism, and pollution are just a few factors that have imperiled  many species in our state. In addition, Endangered Species Day is also a great time to celebrate success stories, like the recovery of the green turtle, the alligator, and the bald eagle.Thanks to the significant strides we have made under the Endangered Species Act, we are celebrating more and more success stories with each passing year.

leatherback_scottbenson_noaa

Photo retrieved from Endangered Species Coalition

For decades all sea turtles in U.S. waters have been listed under the Endangered Species Act, which was created in 1973.They are  protected by the NOAA Fisheries in the ocean and by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in their beach nesting habitats along U.S. coasts. In the United States threats to sea turtles include habitat loss, pollution and disease, boat strikes, entanglement in marine debris and accidental capture in fisheries. However, unlike other species of sea turtles, green turtles interact less with fisheries, which has contributed significantly to their recovery and made them an Endangered Species Act success story. During the nesting season of 1990, fewer than 50 green sea turtles were documented at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s east coast. By 2005, there were just over 3,000 nests. In the most recent nesting season of 2015, green sea turtles set a new record with 14,152 nests! This comeback makes green turtles one of the greatest conservation success stories of our time. The species’ success can be attributed to the Endangered Species Act, STC and all other supporters who worked tirelessly to give green turtles a fighting chance.

julie

Green Sea Turtle by Julie Suess

Sea turtles are not the only species that have had huge success stories thanks to the Endangered Species Act. Many species you may encounter on a regular basis in Florida were once on the brink of extinction. In the 1950s, the American alligator had nearly been hunted to extinction, but thanks to habitat protections and strong hunting regulations, their population from North Carolina to Texas has increased to about 5 million. The brown pelican was dramatically impacted by loss of habitat, but under the Endangered Species Act, they have made a strong comeback, and were officially removed from the endangered species list in 2009. Our national bird, the bald eagle, numbered in the hundreds in the 1960s, but with protection and  the elimination of the pesticide DDT, which made eggs to fragile to hatch, its numbers have soared to over 14,000 breeding pairs today. The Endangered Species Act protects 1,357 species of animals (694 U.S. species) and 901 species of plants (898 U.S. species), and has prevented their extinction, which in turn helps to maintain healthy and sustainable ecosystems and a healthy planet.

On Endangered Species Day celebrate the Act’s successes and keep the momentum going!

1. Learn about endangered species 
The best way to protect endangered species is learning about them and why they’re important. So teach yourself and educate those around you about the value of endangered species and why they are worth saving in their own right. STC’s educational program empowers sea turtle groups throughout Florida, provides educational materials and uses the concept of sea turtle migration tracking as an online educational tool.  Learn more about endangered species by visiting the official site of the US Fish and Wildlife Service at www.fws.gov/endangered

Archie Carr refuge sign2. Visit a national wildlife refuge, park or other open space
These places are home to a lot of different species, and preserving an endangered species’ habitat is essential to protecting the species. You can help by visiting a refuge close to where you live and become a volunteer. The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida is a major safe haven for sea turtles. About 25 % of Florida’s  sea turtle nesting  occurs in the Refuge.

3. Make your home wildlife friendly
Secure garbage in shelters or cans with locking lids and feed pets indoors to avoid attracting wild animals to your home. Taking these actions can keep animals like raccoons, which are sea turtle predators, away. Reduce your use of water in your home and garden so animals that live in or near water can have a better chance of survival. If you live on the beach you can make your home sea turtle friendly by implementing sea turtle lighting.

4. Plant native plants
Native plants provide food and shelter for native animals. You can plant sea oats on the beach to help prevent dune erosion and provide habitat for sea turtle nesting. STC conducts native dune vegetation planting to provide an additional buffer to reduce or eliminate unwanted light on the beach and to enhance nesting habitat at various project sites in the Florida panhandle.

5. Stay away from herbicides and pesticides
Herbicides and pesticides may keep yards looking nice, but they are in fact hazardous pollutants that affect wildlife at many levels. Many herbicides and pesticides take a long time to degrade and build up in soil and throughout the food chain. For alternatives to pesticides, visit http://www.beyondpesticides.org.

Turtle Crossing-Robin Loznak

Photo by Robin Loznak

6. Slow down when driving
One of the main obstacles for wildlife in developed areas is roads. Animals that live in developed areas navigate in areas full of human hazards and roads present wildlife with a dangerous threat. So when you’re driving, slow down and be on the lookout for wildlife. You should also apply these practices while boating to avoid harming sea turtles and other endangered species in the water.

7. Recycle and buy sustainable productsdownload
Recycle anything that can be recycled and buy sustainable products as a simple gift to nature and its species. We love reusable glass straws from Strawesome and snack bags from LunchSkins!

8. Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species
Overseas trips can be exciting and fun, and everyone wants a souvenir. But sometimes the souvenirs are made from species nearing extinction. Avoid supporting the market for illegal wildlife products such as tortoise-shell, ivory and coral. Hawksbill sea turtle shells are often used to be made into sunglasses, jewelry and other trinkets because of their beautiful shell pattern.

9. Stand up for wildlife
Harassing wildlife is cruel and illegal. Harmful behavior such as disturbing and distracting sea turtles is illegal and can be reported by calling any of the numbers listed on our website.

10. Protect wildlife habitat
Perhaps the greatest threat that faces many species is the widespread destruction of habitat.  Environmental issues such as oil and gas drilling and development result in habitat destruction. Habitats belonging to endangered species should be protected so the impact on endangered species is minimized.

Any effort to help an endangered species is appreciated, so participate and celebrate national Endangered Species Day on May 20th, 2016!

 

8th Annual Eco-Explorers Summer Camp at the Barrier Island Center

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

The Barrier Island Center, nestled in the heart of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach, Florida, is bringing back the Eco-Explorers Summer Camps program in 2016. The camps run throughout the month of June and are offered to children ages 9 to 15.

 

Giant Red & Brown Striped Hermit Crab Snorkeling Finds

Participants will enjoy unforgettable experiences, from snorkeling to explore life below the ocean surface and kayaking and paddle boarding to observe first-hand the diversity of life on the Indian River Lagoon, to surfing to further connect with the very beach that attracts more nesting sea turtles than virtually any place on Earth.

Camp dates:

  • June 6-10
  • June 13-17
  • June 20-24
  • June 27-July 1

 

IMG_3002Each session offered will cost $325 and includes transportation, certified aquatic instructors, equipment, t-shirt, a year-long Sea Turtle Conservancy honorary e-membership and a complimentary guided sea turtle walk with preferred reservation! To enroll, complete and fax THIS FORM to 321-952-3207. You may then call 321-723-3556 to make your payment. For more information, visit our website. Enrollment is limited to 13 per week and spots fill up quickly! For questions, please email donnalee@conserveturtles.org We hope to see you there!

 

 

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