Local group has been saving sea turtles for half a century

Local group enters 50th year helping sea turtles

SARASOTA (WWSB) - As the snowbirds retreat north, those of us who call the Suncoast home know we’re in for more visitors along our shores: sea turtles.

Yes, nesting season starts in just a couple of weeks and for more than a couple of years, one local group has made it their mission to make sure those bitty baby turtle hatchlings make it to the gulf safely.

That group, the Longboat Key Turtle Watch has been doing this now for half a century.

Each morning on Longboat Key Beach you can find a volunteer with the group walking along the beach looking for turtle nest. It’s routine that’s been done for 50 years.

The group has been making a difference in the wildlife community since 1969. Their aim, to make sure sea turtles are able to nest, hatch and then make it to the gulf safely by monitoring the beach.

During the group’s first year there were a total of nine nests. Fast forward to 49 years later in 2018 just under 1,000 nest were counted on the beach.

The group’s President, Tim Thurman, says the Endangered Species Act set in place in 1973 has had a great impact in securing turtle nest. He says through the help of the group’s founder, laws and ordinances are now in place to help increase sea turtle awareness.

“One of the founders started working with scientist, and different universities and started coming up with regulations. One of the first things they came up with was putting stakes where the nest were and they started going missing a day or two. What they found were people having bonfires on the beach and they were burning the stakes. They met with the Town of Longboat to come up with ordinances”, says LongBoat Key Turtle Watch President Tim Thurman.

The group has started patrolling the beach this week although turtle nesting season officially starts May 1st.

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