Turtle Watch opposes park plans
TOM VAUGHT | SUN
Sea grape plants like these at Gulf Front Park provide
habitat for sea turtles and shorebirds and should not
be trimmed, according to AMI Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox.
ANNA MADRIA – The evolution of Gulf Front Park might get some resistance if the plans to clear exotics and relocate some turtles are followed.
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox sent a memo to the city warning it not to follow the plan outlined by consultant Rob Barron and presented to the city commission recently.
Fox said they should never trim a sea grape tree because they are a wonderful habitat for sea turtles and shorebirds.
“The report that Mr. Barron was paid to write in August sounds like he really is working for someone who is looking for more view from their private homes,” she wrote in her memo. “He is not a sea turtle habitat expert.”
Fox reiterated it is never OK to remove sea grape trees or trim them.
She also said gopher tortoise removal and relocation is also a bad idea.
“The most recent studies are finding gopher tortoises travel many miles to return to their original burrows that were their home,” Fox wrote. “Can you imagine the stress this puts on those animals?”
She said she could not suggest either trimming sea grape trees or relocating gopher tortoises.
Nature lessons from Turtle Watch
Students look at a shell from a sea turtle during
the Turtle Watch lecture.
tOM VAUGHT | SUN
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch volunteers brought their educational material to the fifth graders at Anna Maria Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 14. Volunteer Mary Lechleidner taught the students about how sea turtles emerge from the Gulf and nest on the beach. The majority of those turtles are loggerheads, who nest on the same island every time and their surviving offspring also return to the same spot to nest.
Lechleidner also brought the group’s mock nest, which shows where the mother lays the eggs after she digs a hole using her fins. The kids got to pull out fake eggs and Lechleidner showed them some turtle hatchlings that died in the nest and were preserved by volunteers.
The students saw a skull of a sea turtle and a giant shell, which was lighter than most of the kids thought it would be.
These courses about sea life and the beach are part of a program provided by a grant that was obtained by volunteer Christine Callahan.
Nests laid: 260
False crawls: 283
Nests hatched: 222
Hatchlings to Gulf: 18,278
Nest disorientations: 51
Nests laid: 225
Nests laid: 67
Nests laid: 5
Source: Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring