To the Editor:
As the 2016 sea turtle nesting and hatching season comes to an end, we want to extend a generous “Thank you” to our community and volunteers. This season, despite the storms and red tide, we had our strongest year ever, with a significant increase in turtle nests. The beach was darker at night than ever before, thanks to homeowner commitment to lighting compliance. We also had more volunteers, fewer issues with beach debris and more donations than ever, which allowed us to provide education, outreach and protection for the loggerhead and green turtles that nest on our beach each year. We extend our sincere appreciation for your generous support and assistance.
Thank you first and foremost to our core group of dedicated volunteer patrollers, who tirelessly donated their time during the six-month season. Without their assistance, we could not achieve our mission to protect and preserve sea turtles and their habitat along the nesting beaches of Gasparilla Island. In particular, we extend our gratitude to Nathan and Carol Forrester, Candy and Bill Sasser, Kathy McClure, Lisa Fultz, Leslie Coe, Colby Fortune, Denise Juergens, Donna Larson, Jordan Ittersagen, Kim Stevenson, Martha Dehne, Ashley Hill, Judy Kauk, Mary Kay Forrer, Marcia and Robert Greenwood, Cindy Howell, Linda and Randy Simmons, Jeff Humbarger MD, Cindy Howell, Marilyn and Ron Googins, Cindi Schwartz, Maria Leonardo, Michelle Capogrosso, Gwen Ketner, Mary Bess, Cherie Laflamme, Paul Csank, and Elliot and Louisa Vestner. It is no small effort to go out each morning into the hot, humid summer sun in support of turtle conservation. Your commitment is deeply appreciated.
There are many others who provide support for our patrollers, including Patricia Cook, Chuck and Tammy Menzel, our local Park Ranger Chad Lach, and Susan Irwin of the Boca Beacon, who provides updates to the community on our activities and promotes awareness of proper beach protocols during the season. The Boca Beacon also graciously collects community donations of stakes, tape, etc.
The support of the Boca Grande Woman’s Club and the Art Alliance allowed us to provide educational outreach materials, which help residents and visitors understand their impact on our unique topography and how they can help sea turtles. The Johann Fust Library Foundation and the Friends of the Community Center provided space to showcase our literature, which helps increase awareness.
There are many beachfront concerns to thank for their commitment to a dark nighttime beach, including The Gasparilla Inn & Club and Sea Oats. The Boca Grande Club deserves a special mention for their ongoing commitment to sea turtle conservation and support of our efforts, including their pledge to remove obstructions from the beach every evening and their commitment to a firecracker-free beach on the Fourth of July.
Our beautiful, wild and natural beaches make Gasparilla Island special, and as visitors to our island increase it becomes even more important to preserve this unique part of our island. The Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association is committed to keeping our beaches optimized for sea turtle nesting, and we are deeply appreciative of those in our community who support our mission.
Donations are welcome and can be mailed to Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association, PO Box 966, Boca Grande, FL 33921. You can follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/seaturtleawareness or learn more at our website, bocagrandeseaturtles.org.
The Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association
Board of Directors
Grace Harvey, Maureen and Ched McConnell, Nancy Lingeman, Betty Beall, Melanie LaHurd, Sharon and Karl Knapp, and Melissa Csank