Turtle Watch volunteers recognized
CINDY LANE | SUN
New Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird
Monitoring volunteer beach walkers received “graduating class”
backpacks for their efforts in finding and keeping data on
sea turtles this season.
HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring volunteers are an important part of the big picture in protecting sea turtles and nesting birds, Director Suzi Fox told the group at its annual awards ceremony on Saturday morning.
“It takes a whole village to save an endangered species,” said Fox, who included several people and things on her 2014 “gratitude list” – new section coordinators, new beach walkers, no major storms, a “huge” shorebird colony in Bradenton Beach, the support of all three Island cities and police departments and a renourished nesting beach.
Also on the list are Ellen Slentz, Kathy Doddridge and Fran Kramer, who organized a silent auction for the ceremony at CrossPointe Fellowship; Amy Trytek, who helped with nest tours; and Glenn and Claudia Wiseman, who conducted hundreds of tours, performed nest excavations, caged nests to protect them from predators, organized the adopt-a-nest program, staked out shorebird nesting areas and counted nests and chicks.
Fox also thanked FPL for installing turtle-friendly lighting on some newly-installed power poles on Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach. The test area, one of two in the state, has proved that hatchlings are not disoriented by the new streetlights, she said.
Fox recognized section coordinators with gift certificates for car washes: Maureen McCormick and Pat Paterfeso, John Schimkatis, Debbie Basilius, Pete and Emily Gross, Glenn and Claudia Wiseman, Marvin and Lee Zerkel and Kathy Doddridge.
Fox also called up first-year beach walkers to “Pomp and Circumstance” and presented the “Class of 2014” with backpacks: Dan and Lyn Jones, Ellen Slentz, Jim and Nancy Amara and family, Nicholas and Maria Yatros, Vicki Staley, Dave and Peggy Nicodemus and Amberly Waterman.
Fox said Turtle Watch had a “banner year” for volunteers, with two new coordinators and 20 new beach walkers.
The season is the third best ever for nests and hatchlings, according to Turtle Watch statistician Pete Gross, with 543 documented crawls on the beach, split about evenly between nests and false crawls, in which the turtle returns to the Gulf without laying her eggs.
This time last year, 728 crawls were counted during an all-time record season that produced 369 nests and 23,234 hatchlings.
Bird nesting is nearly finished for the year, she said; black skimmers left their staked out nesting area, which has been taken down, and will soon migrate to South America.