Business with a heart
Cindy Lane | Sun
Need assistance bringing in heavy items
from the beach at night? Here's help.
BRADENTON BEACH – Zac Shely figures he may have saved a couple hundred turtles' lives by bringing in chairs from the beach after sunset, figuring each nest has about 100 eggs.
Chairs, umbrella stands, grilles, beach towels and other items can trip up a nesting loggerhead sea turtle and cause her to abort her attempt to lay a nest of about 100 eggs. The items also can disorient turtle hatchlings, which will begin leaving Island nests for the Gulf around the first of July.
Shely, a senior at Manatee School for the Arts, is getting a head start on his chosen college major, environmental science, with some firsthand work in the sandy trenches of Bradenton Beach.
So far, he serves three resorts, where he pulls chairs and other items off the beach after sunset, which is required by law during turtle season, May 1 to Oct. 31. He also fills in holes left by kids to keep turtles from becoming trapped.
Sometimes, he has to politely ask people for their chairs and politely decline when they ask him to come back in an hour, but he uses the opportunity to educate visitors about sea turtles, he said.
With one turtle season under his belt, Shely is working this season to add more resorts to his growing client list; he hopes to add two more resorts this week.
"I would like to do the whole Island," said Shely, whose flyer quotes prices of $10 per night for less than 30 chairs and $15 for 30 or more chairs.
It's a great idea, said Gail Garneau, code enforcement officer for the city of Bradenton Beach, adding that some resorts also are locking up their chairs after recent thefts.
Garneau has been monitoring beach conditions at night since turtle season began on May 1 and has contacted several property managers and businesses about lights being visible from the beach, which is against the law during the season.
Most violators are new business owners on Gulf Drive who didn't know about the law and vacationers who don't know they're supposed to pull their blinds and drapes closed at night if they face the Gulf, she said.
Garneau also discovered that Manatee County and the city of Bradenton Beach had lighting violations.
The new concession stand at Coquina Beach had an indoor lighting fixture visible from the beach, which will be put on a timer, she said.
And at city hall, an outdoor light bulb could be seen by turtles on the beach. No one could find a switch for it, she said, so the bulb was unscrewed.
The city leaves door hangers with sea turtle regulations printed on them the first time they find violations at businesses and residences; subsequent violations can result in fines. Property left on the beach at night also may be confiscated.
To contact Shely, call 941-592-8082. .