The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 37 - June 4, 2008


Sea turtle camp kicks off its fifth season

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Anna Maria Island is the only place in the state where
sea turtles nest on a bay. Here, AMITW Director Suzi Fox
points out the tracks made by a loggerhead that crawled
ashore behind a house on South Bay Boulevard.

Project Sea Turtle, a special camp devoted to the study of turtles and other environmental subjects, will kick off its fifth season this summer.

The camp is a joint project of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and KLC School Partnership.

"It’s a wonderful thing for the kids and for us," AMITW Director Suzi Fox said. "We feel like we’re spreading the word to the next generation, and the kids provide some real help to us out on the nesting beaches."

Most days during the one-week sessions of Project Sea Turtle, counselors call ahead and then bring the campers to wherever there has been nesting activity during the night.

"The kids help make notations on the stakes, mark off the nests and then erase the signs of the crawl," Fox said. "Both of the directors of the camp are long-time Turtle Watch section coordinators, and both are listed on the permit, so they can let the kids do just about anything short of actually handling eggs and digging in the nests."

During each one-week session, the campers will study a different aspect of the environment along with sea turtles.

"We have a week devoted to marine mammals and one where we’ll study polar extremes," Swosinski said. "It’s amazing what the kids can learn. They become quite sophisticated on environmental issues."

The campers will also learn how to make reef balls. They’ll learn about all five species of sea turtles and they’ll be learning about a turtle project in Malaysia, according to Swosinski.

There will be two groups this summer. The loggerhead campers are elementary school students, and for the first time this year, Project Sea Turtle will have sessions for middle school students who are called leatherbacks, because they’re bigger.

Each one-week camp session costs $155. Camp runs from June 16 through July 26.

To find out more, call KLC School Partnerships at 752-3983 or log onto

You can also access the site from AMITW’s Web site, which is

Nesting on the bay

Anna Maria Island is the only site in the state where there is documented nesting activity, according to Fox.

One turtle crawled ashore behind a house on South Bay Boulevard during the overnight hours between Friday and Saturday this week.

"At first I thought somebody had stolen a clump of sea oats," said Bill Lang. "When I went out to look, a saw the tracks. I know a bit about sea turtles, because I’ve been fishing these waters for the past 40 years."

Lang and his partner, Bonnie Baker, spend a lot of weekends at the South Bay Boulevard house.

"I understand that in about 55 days we might see baby turtles come out of that nest," Land said.

He added that he’s seen a lot of sea turtles lately out in the water the past several weeks, particularly around Passage Key.

"The other day, there was big one that stuck its head up not five feet in front of me," Lang said. "Then it saw the boat and just took off."

Baker and Lang did just what they were supposed to do. They called AMITW at 778-5638 to report the crawl and nesting area behind their house.

Fox and Section Coordinator Ed Sterba both checked the nest.

"It’s probably a false crawl, but we mark things like this just in case," Fox said.


Turtle Talley
Turtle Tom


Fees set for confiscated beach equipment

ANNA MARIA — Don’t leave your beach chairs or tents on the beaches overnight in Anna Maria, or you’ll likely have to bail them out of beach equipment jail.

The city commission unanimously adopted a resolution at its May 29 meeting establishing fines for items left out on the beaches overnight.

Anna Maria has an ordinance protecting the sea turtles that lay their eggs on the city shore. Since sea turtles can become entangled in beach chairs, tents and other things left out overnight, the beaches must be cleared between sunset and sunrise.

Beach equipment can and often is confiscated by city staff, since it’s in violation of the sea turtle protection ordinance.

"We already have people coming around to city hall to get their chairs and tents back," Mayor Fran Barford. "We take this very seriously."

It will cost you $25 to reclaim a tent and $10 to get a chair back if it’s confiscated. To reclaim other confiscated items, it will run you anywhere from $5 to $50.

"If items are held longer than seven days, a storage fee of twice the normal fee will be applied," the resolution states. If you don’t reclaim your items within 6 months, they will be auctioned off.

Other fees adopted at the meeting were $50 per hour for on-site staff time to inspect for compliance with the lighting portion of the turtle protection ordinance.

Under the law, any artificial lights visible from the beach must be turned off or shielded.

"These charges will mainly be for new construction, and we have to charge them because we have to go out after hours to see them in the dark," Building Official Bob Welch explained.

There will also now be a fee of $150 per cubic yard for any trash and debris that the city has to remove.


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