The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 36 - June 22, 2011


Island nesting turtles safer courtesy BP mitigation


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

For every turtle that died as a result
of the BP oil catastrophe, funds were
paid into an account to help the survival
of the species. Seven properties
on the Island were retrofitted with
turtle-friendly lighting. Here, the upper
half of the stairwell for Martinique
North has been fitted with window
film. At the time of this photo, the
bottom half had not yet been fitted.


There was a price on the head of every sea turtle killed as a result of the BP oil explosion and spill last year in the Gulf of Mexico.

That money ultimately flowed into the hands of Sea Turtle Conservancy.

The conservancy used the money around the state to help future generations of threatened and endangered sea turtles survive.

In Florida, those funds were used to retrofit the lighting for properties along the coast.

Here on Anna Maria, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring was responsible for helping to distribute the funds.

"We put out a notice in the papers, and applications poured in," AMITW Director Suzi Fox said. "We worked through the list and took on the projects that we could handle the quickest and easiest."

Fox was pleased with the response and glad the money was going to retrofit lighting.

Sea turtles are attracted to bright lights, and when artificial lights are brighter than the water itself, turtle hatchlings often head towards that artificial lighting rather than into the waters of the Gulf.

Each year, hatchlings are crushed in traffic or they dry out as they head further and further inland and away from the beach.

Last year, a baby turtle was found in one of the driveways at Queen's Gate
across from the water on Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach. That's not likely to happen again. Queen's Gate was the recipient of some of the BP money.

"The new lighting looks fantastic," said Cathy Wooten, manager of Queen's Gate. "We got 15 sets of lights — one for each unit. Then we got two down pointing lights for our sign."

Wooten said the lights on the sign used to point up to the sign from the ground.

"The down lights are great," she said. "You can see the sign just as well, and the whole property looks really beautiful now."

Wooten said the new turtle-friendly lighting fixtures, which were installed at no cost to her, provide plenty of light.

She added that she's noticed that the electric bill has gone down a little. The new fixtures use LED technology, which draws a lot less energy from the power grid.

"Our new turtle-friendly lighting is wonderful, and we're saving on our electric bill," Wooten said.

Other properties that were awarded the grant money include Club Bamboo, Silver Surf, Coconuts, La Playa and Martinique North.

Fox said different turtle-friendly lighting techniques were used on different properties.

At Coconuts, which is on Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, was retrofitted with light posts, which are poles around 36 inches high. They're placed at street ends to make the lighting softer and the source doesn't hit people right in the eye, which can temporarily blind them.

Other solutions could improve landscaping fixes such as putting bushes in front of problem lights, different light bulbs, window film or even curtains.

"We fitted the stairwells at Martinique North with window film," Fox said. The difference in the amount of light that shines on the beach is amazing."

The original $42,000 became available late last year and was allocated by the end of January. Most of the installations took place in February and March.

It's only now that the favorable impact on nesting turtles is becoming apparent, according to Fox.

"There isn't any more money available, but I'm pursuing every source of funding I can, and I'm hopeful that we'll be able to find some more funding so we can retrofit additional properties."

June coastal events planned


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

A loggerhead sea turtle nest in Bradenton Beach is
caged so that hatchlings will be protected from
predators like raccoons.


Hands Across the Sand

A year ago, oil was gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon oil well, but already, the roaring riptide of outraged public opinion seems to have turned into a mild undercurrent.

Last June, about 400 people attended the Hands Across the Sand event at Manatee County Public Beach, along with people at similar events in all 50 states and 42 other countries.

But Sarah Moore, who is trying to organize the local 2011 Hands Across the Sand event in Siesta Key on June 25, has been discouraged by officials who say the political climate has changed, and offshore drilling is not as unpopular as it was a year ago.

Moore said she plans to approach local officials about having the event at Manatee beach again.

If she succeeds, it will be the third time people have joined hands there to draw a line in the sand against drilling.

On Feb. 13, 2010, before the oil spill began on April 20, the first Hands Across the Sand event was held, drawing about 180 people in 47-degree weather at Manatee beach, most wearing black to represent oil.

They were protesting a proposal by the Florida House of Representatives to lift the ban on nearshore drilling off Florida, a proposal that was narrowly defeated.

Two months later, the Deepwater Horizon exploded, and the event founded by Dave Rauschkolb, a surfer and restaurateur from Seaside, Fla., became international.

"This movement is about supporting the advancement of clean energy sources that will sustain our planet," he said. "We are joining hands to say 'no' to offshore oil drilling and 'yes' to clean energy. We are joining hands to implore our leaders to end our dependence on oil and coal and embrace a clean energy future for a sustainable planet."

The nearest confirmed Hands Across the Sand event at press time will be at Upham Beach in Pinellas County on Saturday, June 25, at 11 a.m. If you can't make it, you can sign a petition to ban oil drilling at

World Sea Turtle Day

World Sea Turtle Day on June 16 is the birthday of Archie Carr, a biologist who founded the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, now the Sea Turtle Conservancy, in 1959, and ran it until his death in 1987.

A professor at the University of Florida, he also has named for him the Dr. Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica and, closer to home, the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach.

There is no official local event planned, but to celebrate World Sea Turtle Day, do not hug a turtle. Instead, call Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch at 778-5638 and join a turtle tour to check out their nesting sites on local Gulf beaches.

International Surfing Day

Speaking of Melbourne Beach, a great Florida surf spot, International Surfing Day on June 20 seems to be flying under the radar of local surfers.

Maybe it's because it's on a Monday, although surfers are not typically shy about calling in sick when it comes to surf. The closest event, sponsored by Surfrider Foundation at the Surf Shack in St. Petersburg Beach, has been moved to the previous weekend, all day on Saturday, June 18.

While we're not likely to get lucky enough to have waves on Monday, it's not too late to throw together an impromptu paddleout at your favorite surf spot.

But if you're planning on being anywhere else in the world other than here that day, check out for scheduled events.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper