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South Walton Turtle Watch Seeking Volunteers. Training is March 25 at PCB

Discussion in 'All About SoWal' started by Teresa, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    Location:
    South Walton, FL
    South Walton Turtle Watch is a group of volunteers whose purpose is to locate sea turtle nests and protect them during the crucial nesting and hatching season. By law, only certified members are allowed to interact with the endangered sea turtles.

    The sea turtle nesting season is from May to October, and every season volunteers give their time and effort to monitor the special creatures that return to our beaches every year to nest and continue their life journey.

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    South Walton Turtle Watch is looking for volunteers for the sea turtle season of 2015 and beyond. If interested please visit southwaltonturtlewatch.org.

    There you will find what is required of our morning walkers and an application to fill out and email back.

    Training for this sea turtle season will be held on March 25 and is given by the State of Florida. All volunteers must attend this training session in Panama City Beach (current volunteers must attend every other year).
    Sign up and attend training to be able to volunteer.

    The training is March 25 from 10-2 at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City.

    Training will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 25 in the Student Union East Conference Center, 2nd Floor, at Gulf Coast State College, 5230 West Hwy. 98, Panama City. Call 850-769-1551 if needing directions.

    Requirements

    Walking the beach looking for sea turtle tracks is fun, especially if you find some tracks. And it sounds easy, but there are a surprising number of things to think about and keep in mind. Here are a few.

    Sharon Maxwell has held the state marine turtle permit for our area since 1995. She is the director of our program and decides how we operate under the rules and regulations of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

    The nesting season is May 1st through October 31st; however we generally conduct daily surveys from May 1st through September 30th, unless conditions dictate otherwise.


    • Age - Must be at least 18 years of age. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied their parent or guardian on walks.
    • Health - Must be in good physical condition to withstand long walks on the beach in hot, humid weather conditions.
    • Communication - You must have a mobile phone as you will need to let your area coordinator know as soon as your walk has been completed or if you find anything that looks like a crawl. In addition all sorts of information is sent out via email so you will be expected to keep yourself up to date by checking your email regularly.
    • Volunteering Frequency - All volunteers must walk at least one day a week to be a part of the South Walton Turtle Watch program.
    • Volunteers that are on the primary permit MTP-120 should walk at least two days a week where possible.

    Walking:


    • Expectations - You must let your area coordinator know as soon as possible if you are going to be unable to walk. This should be done via phone or text. You must confirm they got your message.
    • Times - Walks begin just after dawn or first light, generally between 5:15 to 6:15 a.m. during the course of the season. We will start the season walking around 5:40 a.m. because it is still dark earlier than that time. As it gets lighter earlier, the walks will start earlier. Your area coordinator or Sharon may keep you informed on the preferred starting times during the season but it is up to you to be out there just after dawn.
    • Stay focused - Remember, you’re looking for tracks. It’s easy to let your mind wander to the beautiful environment you’re in, to the beautiful cloud formations or the dolphins in the water. It only takes a few seconds to pass over turtle tracks, especially if they are from a smaller turtle.
    • Where to walk - Don’t walk too close to the water, you could miss tracks that have been washed out by a high tide. And don’t walk too high up on the beach, you might miss a short false crawl. Not only do we document nests, we document false crawls.
    • Finding a Crawl or Nest - If you find something like a crawl or stranded turtle call your area coordinator. They will need to investigate what you found. When in doubt, call. After calling you will need to put out flags to mark the incoming, outgoing crawl and the nest site. You will then need to complete your walk and clear your seciton before returning to the site.
    • Weather: We walk in almost all weather conditions This includes rain, but we are concerned with volunteer safety. If there is a lightening on yor beach at the time of your walk please call your area coordinator before proceeding on your walk. If you can, wait until the lightning passes.
    • Walking as Couples - SWTW discourages couples from walking together. Sometimes we find ourselves in need of more walkers than we have and when people walk as couples they cover half as much beach as they otherwise could. WAlking in pairs is not banned, just discouraged.
    • Dogs - they are not allowed to accompany volunteers on their walks.

    MORE info and application at SouthWaltonTurtleWatch.org.

    Thanks to everyone at SWTW for walking our beaches and protecting our sea turtles!

    If you would like to help SWTW but can't volunteer for walking, please make a donation to South Walton Turtle Watch and/or join Friends of South Walton Turtles - a new volunteer group supporting SWTW mission.

    Another great way to help is to purchase a Florida Sea Turtle License Plate! Help sea turtles every time you drive...
     
  2. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    South Walton, FL
    [​IMG]

    Did you know that Sea Turtle Conservancy is largely responsible for the creation of the Sea Turtle License Plate? It’s been 20 years since STC led the successful campaign to create the plate and now the Helping Sea Turtles Survive license plate is the 2nd highest selling specialty plate in the state and the TOP selling environmental plate! Even better, 70% of the plates proceeds go directly into the Marine Turtle Protection Program and the remaining 30% of funds are distributed annually through the Sea Turtle Grants Program! Read more in our new blog post: http://conserveturtles.org/turtlebl...re-for-floridas-sea-turtles-for-twenty-years/
     

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