■ BY SUE ERWIN
Despite the effects of red tide, sea turtle nest numbers are continuing to grow, hatchlings are making their way to the water, and excavations are being done by patrol members almost daily.
As of July 20, the Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association reported 554 Caretta caretta (loggerhead) turtle nests on the island. There were 501 reported false crawls (when a turtle comes up onto the beach but does not lay a nest). One Chelonia mydas (green) turtle nest has been reported so far this year.
Last weekend’s high winds brought in some very rough surf, and the Karenia brevis toxin was to blame for turtle carnage on the beach.
The BGSTA recorded two more dead turtles, a very large male loggerhead and a sub-adult Kemp’s ridley.
“The Kemp’s ridley are the rarest species of sea turtle and are critically endangered, so every one that has washed up our beach over the past month is exceedingly painful and a tremendous loss,” said a patrol member for the organization.
A number of deceased hatchlings were found washed up back onto the beach on July 20.
If you’re on the beach and see what you think is a red tide-intoxicated baby sea turtle, the best thing to do in that situation is to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hotline (888) 404-FWCC and report it. FWC will then contact the BGSTA to pick it up. This allows FWC to track and document every element of the stranding, and they will work with the rehabilitation agencies to get the hatchling to the place that is most appropriate. It is not advised that you touch a hatchling, but if you think it is in distress, gently place it in a bucket with some damp sand, cover it with a towel and wait for a volunteer to pick it up.
The BGSTA is looking for some kindhearted folks who live locally, have a boat and might be interested in transporting stranded turtles to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) facility on Sanibel Island.
There are no turtles in need of transporting at the moment. This is a request for the future, for when turtles are rescued.
Currently, transporting a turtle to CROW takes about four hours (round trip) by car, so the trip would be much shorter by boat and less stressful for sick or injured turtles.
This is a fairly rare event ,so it would not be a regular commitment.
Optimally, the organization would like to find a few boaters whom volunteers could call in an emergency.
If you are a turtle lover with a boat and you’re interested in helping, send an email to email@example.com for more information.
Turtle patrol volunteers would like to remind everyone to keep pets on leashes,
If you come across a sea turtle that is stranded or dead, or if you see someone disturbing a nest or turtle, call the FWC at (888) 404-FWCC.
Go to MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle for more information on Florida’s sea turtles, and click on “Research,” then “Nesting” for more data on sea turtle nesting.
The BGSTA is actively looking for volunteers. Training and supplies are provided. If you’re available a few mornings a week to assist, go to facebook.com/seaturtleawareness or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more details.