A Year in Review....and our Thanks!
This past year was one filled with many successes thanks to our volunteers and donors. Thanks to a grant by the Sea Turtle License Plate program, we were able to purchase a new education trailer to replace the one destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Our Volunteer Sea Turtle Nest Surveyors monitored beaches throughout the Keys all season long, protecting the females, their nests and saving many, many hatchlings that may have perished due to disorientations or nest entanglement. Our Board continued to meet monthly, addressing nesting & lighting concerns, offered some wonderful guest presenters at our meetings, and worked diligently to continue rebuilding SAT post Irma and the interior of our Education Trailer. Wait till you see it!!!!!

Officers attended the Annual Marine Turtle Permit Holders Conference and various meetings Key's wide on topics from coral restoration to eliminating single use plastics. We also took the opportunity to attend many local festivals to carry on with our education mission including Ocean Day At Dolphin Research Center, The Nautical Expo, MOTE Ocean Festival, Pigeon Key Art Festival, The Island Art Festival and Sugarloaf School's Marine Science Night, just to mention a few.

Thanks to your donations, we were able to provide nesting supplies to all of our volunteers this past season and have a good stock for the upcoming season as well. We purchased new turtle friendly lighting displays, education material and displays, and replaced our SAT merchandise to help continue with our fund raising efforts. All of this was also destroyed by Irma. Furthermore, we provided two $1000 Scholarships to students at the Community College of the Florida Keys majoring in Marine Sciences, something we have not been able to do for a few years.

And on top of all that, through the local youth based organization, TheirPlanet, and the Conch Republic Marine Army, our officers, board members and beach walkers helped coordinate and/or participated in several beach cleans ups AND helped plant 20,000 sea oats on one of our main turtle nesting beaches as part of an ongoing beach restoration project. Whew! We have been busy!

Whether you are an officer, board member, beach walker, volunteer or donor, know that we could not do what we do without each and every one of YOU! So, on behalf of the sea turtles in the Florida Keys, we thank you for every minute of your time, for every dollar you donated and for your continued support. We look forward to accomplishing even more in 2020!
Upcoming Events
Monthly Membership Meeting
Monday, January 13th 5:30 pm
Annual Board Elections 2020

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon

Join us for a free tour of the Turtle Hospital and meet their current patients and Head Start babies.

Meeting will follow afterwards. The public is invited to attend. 2020 Board Member Elections will be held. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or board member is encouraged to attend!
Lower Keys Nautical Expo
Jan 11th 8am - 4pm
Jan 12th 8am - 2pm

Chamber Grounds, Big Pine Key

We will be showing off the nearly completed interior of our Education Trailer! Don't miss the reveal!

Come visit us to talk turtles, play some games, win prizes and just have some family fun!
A Brief History of Sea Turtles
Did you know that Sea Turtles are the oldest living creatures on earth, dating back more than 110 million years to the Cretaceous period? The very first sea turtle known as the Archelon, had flippers that spanned nearly 17 feet, its head was more than 2 feet wide, and it weighed an estimated 5000 lbs! Turtles themselves, have existed since the Triassic Period, 210 million years ago, and the marine adapted turtles that we know of today appeared 10-50 million years later during the Jurassic period.

The evolution of sea turtles began with animals that could only swim in shallow waters as their limbs had not yet modified into flippers like those of modern day sea turtles. Of the estimated 80+ species of sea turtles that evolved during the Cretaceous period, only 7 have survived and still swim in the oceans all over the world, excluding the polar waters. These species are commonly known as: Loggerhead, Green, Hawksbill, Kemp's Ridley, Olive Ridley, Leatherback and the Australian Flat Back. Out of these 7 species, there are no living species from the Archelon or Protostega families, the Leatherback is a direct decendant of the Dermochelyidae family but has some characteristics of the Archelon, and the remaining 6 species are members of the Cheloniidae family.

So just how did sea turtles survive when the dinosaur's could not? Approximately 66 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, a meteor slammed into the earth and wiped out 3/4's of the plant and animal species on earth, while the marine environment only suffered a 10-22% loss. Scientists believe that mainly due to their slow metabolism and aquatic lifestyle, sea turtles and most amphibians were able to survive on sparse resources afterwards. Furthermore, because these animals could go into a sort of animated suspension, they were able to wait out the lack of sun, food and oxygenated water, the extreme cold and the harsh conditions for a few months until the earth started to settle down and the sun returned.

With all that sea turtles have endured during the past 110 million years, its just so sad to think that they are now threatened and/or endangered creatures because of harvesting and fishing from humans. Here in the Florida Keys, sea turtles were a necessary food source to it's earliest inhabitants back in the 1800's. However, turtles became a delicacy, their shells were used for making combs and jewelry, eggs were harvested from nests for food as well and leatherbacks were harvested for their leathery shells. Two hundred years of harvesting turtles world wide finally took its toll on the population.

All species of sea turtle protection began here in the US in the 1970's. Today, Green turtles are the only species that is protected world wide. While many countries have also joined the effort to protect these amazing animals, 42 others have not and do continue to fish and harvest sea turtles, particularly Hawksbills (for their beautiful shells) including Japan, Palau and Grenada.

Watch for next month's newsletter: Basic Sea Turtle Anatomy
Sea Turtle Quiz: Easy
How to Play:

  1. Click the link below
  2. Click the Green --> button on the upper left to advance the screen
  3. Click your answer
  4. After you answer a question, click the ? to the right to learn more! Click X to close screen & continue from 2 above.
  5. Have fun!
Report Sick, Injured or Dead Sea Turtles in Fla to FWCC at 888-404-FWCC