Turtle Watch sets goals for future

Turtle Watch luncheon
Members of the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring team celebrate the end of sea turtle nesting season. - Tom Vaught | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – Turtle Watchers gathered Saturday to assess accomplishments and discuss goals at their annual potluck luncheon at CrossPointe Fellowship.

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox recognized different groups of volunteers, such as the newbies, those in their first year of walking the beaches during turtle nesting season. She also recognized the territory coordinators who help walkers as they look for new turtle nests and make sure they are safe until the eggs hatch. She also talked about working together.

“I know you want to have the chance to work within your sections and some sections are busier than others,” she said. “But I want you to work together entirely as a team; what happens in your section is what happened to the team.”

Fox said she had 88 volunteers qualified to walk the beaches, and they attended to 934 emergencies in nests and while the hatchlings were heading for the Gulf. She drew applause when she said they had 25,263 hatchlings make it to the sea.

Fox said the volunteers spent 400 hours distributing door-to-door handouts to resorts, businesses and Realtors at no cost to them. They spent 3,712 public outreach community hours.

Turtle Watch will work with Manatee County to replace all the metal signs in the dunes at Cortez and Coquina beaches with signs designed by students at Anna Maria Elementary School.

Finally, she said if the county decides it needs a beach renourishment following this year’s active storm season, Turtle Watch welcomes the opportunity to provide input to protect turtle and shorebird nests during those operations.