Businesses team up for Turtle Watch Wednesday

Turtles hatchlings appear to be faring OK so far regarding the red tide. The Turtle Watch Wednesday fundraiser on Wednesday, Sept. 5, will benefit the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring organization. - Submitted | AMITW

HOLMES BEACH – As part of their ongoing efforts to offset the economic challenges created by red tide, A Paradise Realty and Vacation Rentals and Hurricane Hank’s are partnering in their efforts to bring locals and visitors out to Anna Maria Island.

A Paradise Realty and Hurricane Hank’s will host a Turtle Watch Wednesday fundraiser from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 5. The fundraiser will benefit the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring organization.

“Red tide has severely affected our beloved sea life and people who rely on the tourism industry for their livelihood,” says a press release issued jointly by the two Island businesses.

“We’ve had some bookings that have canceled, but we’re keeping positive by doing these kinds of events. If people aren’t coming to the Island it affects the other businesses and their staff members too, but we can pull together and support one another as businesses on the Island. We support and encourage that and we know others are doing the same,” said A Paradise Marketing Director Sharon Hoatland.

The first 75 guests to arrive at the Turtle Watch Wednesday event will be greeted by a member of the A Paradise Realty team who will hand them a ticket for a complimentary drink. Hurricane Hank’s will offer a 50 percent discount on appetizers. For every food item and drink sold, Hurricane Hank’s will donate $1 to the Turtle Watch organization. The fundraiser efforts will include raffles.

Hurricane Hank’s is located at 5346 Gulf Dr. in Holmes Beach. For more information, call A Paradise Realty at 941-729-2381 or Hurricane Hank’s at 941-778-5788. Or visit or

Turtle Watch

On Monday, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring Executive Director Suzi Fox discussed the impact red tide is having on the Island’s turtle and bird populations.

“Red tide has certainly compromised the adults and the juvenile sea turtles because we’re getting one a day coming in either sick or dead, so we want to bring attention and awareness to that so people keep their eyes open for it,” Fox said.

Fox asks those who encounter a sick or dead turtle to call her office at 941-778-5638.

Fox said she and the Turtle Watch volunteers are often asked about how the red tide is impacting the baby sea turtles as leave the shore and head out to sea.

“We still have over 200 nests on the beach right now. They’re born with food in their belly and they’re not looking to eat. They’re looking to swim like crazy,” Fox said of the hatchlings initial efforts to swim to safer waters.

“So far, we’re not seeing any dead hatchlings, so it’s more important than ever for people to keep their lights off for the rest of the season so we can get these babies offshore quickly,” she said.

When asked about the shorebirds, Fox said, “We did a shorebird count Friday. The birds seem to be hanging out up at Bean Point by the thousands. It’s phenomenal to watch, but we’ve seen some that didn’t look like they feel good up there. They looked a little sluggish, so we’re working with Wildlife Inc. to get them transported up there.”

Headed by Gail and Ed Straight, Wildlife Inc. is headquartered in Bradenton Beach.

When expressing her appreciation for the upcoming “Turtle Watch Wednesday” fundraiser, Fox said, “The volunteers are so tired right now, so anytime anyone can cheer them on, especially with any kind of gathering, I think it’s going to give them the boost they need to finish out our season. A special shout out and thanks to A Paradise and Hank’s for thinking about the wildlife on the Island.”