Updated Oct. 4, 2019 | HOLMES BEACH – The Second Annual Turtle Watch Wednesday this afternoon at Hurricane Hanks raised money and the spirits of the volunteers who monitor Anna Maria Island beaches for turtle and bird nesting.
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Director Suzi Fox was thrilled at the community’s support and their participation in the fundraiser for the not-for-profit organization.
“This is amazing,” she said, tearing up as she addressed the crowd, which produced $11,000 in donations, more than tripling last year’s $3,000 in donations. “Thank you so much!”
Mike Sales set a tropical mood with live music and emceed the event, which featured both silent and live auctions, a 50/50 raffle and specially-designed T-shirts available for a donation.
Jeannie Sowers, a frequent Island visitor from North Carolina, donated a live auction item, a Robert Wyland giclee on canvas of a sea turtle in Hawaii that brought $800 from Jennifer Lipham.
Harbor Lane vacation rentals in Holmes Beach donated a free stay won by high bidder Tracey Edwards for $1,100, and more than 50 local businesses provided items for the silent auction.
Laura Bell Adams won the 50/50 raffle and donated her half of the $770 back to Turtle Watch.
Nicole Skaggs won a prize basket from Waterline Marina Resort in Holmes Beach for $550.
Proceeds from the event will go towards turtle-friendly lighting and community education about the importance of following turtle lighting laws to keep nesting mothers and hatching turtles from becoming disoriented, Fox said.
Turtle Watch has documented 52 disorientations of turtle mothers and hatchlings so far this season. More than 30 turtle nests are still on the beach waiting to hatch between now and the end of the season on Oct. 31.
A Paradise Realty and Vacation Rentals, Hurricane Hanks, J&J Graphics and the Anna Maria Island Sun sponsored the event.