A "morning in the life" of a sea turtle patrol volunteer
SARASOTA COUNTY - This time of year, it almost seems impossible to step foot on a Suncoast beach without spotting a sea turtle nest. Behind those staked off areas are hours of hard work, sometimes from volunteers.
Before most of us pour our first cup of coffee, Coastal Wildlife Club volunteers patrol more than 175 turtle nests on Manasota Key. Don MacAulay, a volunteer said, "It is important because there are a lot of animals that want to dig in there. It just preserves the chance that they're going to survive."
For Don, it's a 4 a.m. wake up call to check on turtle nests in a 1.3 mile zone before the sun rises. He said, "Just to give back to the ocean. You know, cleaning it up...we do that every day as we come down."
7 days a week, it's walking shoes on and artificial lighting off. Carol McCoy, a CWC volunteer said, "It's best to have a red LED light. Artificial light can disorient turtles and prevent them from nesting."
Early august is a busy time for the club's Turtle Patrol, as nesting and hatching seasons overlap. Between staking off new nests, "We have to go in at that point and then at least try to locate the eggs. Once we do that, we GPS the location," Don said. And excavating others after they've hatched.
McCoy said, "We come in and we perform an inventory to see how many eggs have hatched. How many haven't hatched yet, how many might be." Volunteers free stragglers stuck in their nests too. MacAulay said, "That's neat to watch them make their way. They have to do their imprint and make their way and get their muscles working for the long swim."
Duties that make for a job with no paycheck, but a whole lot of pay off. For more information click here.