South Walton Turtle Watch Celebrates 20 Years

By  | 

SOUTH WALTON-- For Valerie Lofton it's a passion. For 16 years, she has been walking up and down the beaches of South Walton protecting four different species of sea turtles.

"We need clean beaches," said Lofton.

But beginning this organization wasn't easy.

When South Walton Turtle Watch started 20 years ago, people said there was no need for the group.

"There were people in the state of Florida, that said sea turtles never nest in the Panhandle," said Lofton. "And there are seven species of sea turtles and we actually get four of those species here in South Walton County."

Twenty years and about 80 volunteers later, the organization continues to grow.

Group members not only spend much of their time protecting the sea turtles, and their nests, but also educating the public.

"Repetition, Repetition, Repetition, and Teaching, Teaching, Teaching," said Lofton. "That's all you can do. And we are finding that 99.9 percent of the people who hear about it respond in positive ways."

Lofton says if you are on the beach make sure to fill in any holes. Clean up your trash, and make a smooth, and flat surface for the turtles.

"Do a little research on that area, and find out what lives there and how you can help to not make an imprint in their world," said Lofton.

Nesting season began in May, and Lofton says, weather permitting, the eggs will hatch in about 50 to 70 days.