South Walton Group Begins Sea Turtle Watch

By: Drew Steele Email
By: Drew Steele Email

The state of Florida had a record turtle nesting season last year and are hoping to another one this year. The season officially began today.

South Walton turtle watch volunteers have been monitoring beaches and protecting sea turtle nests since 1995. Their days begin early.

"We get on the beach when we can see which is usually in the summer anywhere from five fifteen to a quarter to six" says South Walton Turtle Watch President Sharon Matthews.

More than fifty volunteers with the South Walton group give their time to mark turtle nests.

"I have two sets of walkers. Some just walk and some like me are walkers and also on the permit. And those people on the permit can then determine is that crawl a real nest" said Matthews.

This group is really dedicated to the cause, volunteering their time from May first until the end of October.

"It's kind of a date that somebody picked that most sea turtle nests happen between May first and October thirty-first when they hatch."

The group looks for several species of sea turtle nests, like green sea turtles and loggerheads, and the even rarer kemps-ridley.
But Maxwell believes the turtle watch’s greatest mission is to educate the public on turtle nesting habits.
"All the other things we do are great and i think it's why sea turtles are coming back. But if people don't respect the area where the sea turtles nest then we haven't done anything” said Maxwell.

Sea turtles are protected by state and federal law as an endangered species.

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