October 2019
Turtle Tracks Newsletter
October Board Meeting
Tuesday, October 1st
6:30 pm
1997 Long Beach Dr. BPK

Working board meeting. The public is invited to attend.
SAVE-The-Date: Nov 16th
Annual Save-A-Turtle Banquet
Florida Keys Country Club
Marathon, Fl
$25,000 Reward : Splinter the Speared Sea Turtle
Photos by MyFWC and The Turtle Hospital
Splinter, a 150 lb teen endangered green sea turtle was found by a boater off of Key Largo earlier this month with a 3 foot metal spear in its neck which was tangled in a trap line attached to a buoy. Authorities were notified, FWC officers met the boaters, rescued the turtle and brought it to shore at John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park, where it was picked up by the Turtle Hospital's ambulance and transported to their facility in Marathon.

X-ray's show how deep the spear impaled the animal. Emergency surgery was performed by Dr. Douglas Mader, DVM, of Marathon Veterinarian Hospital performed emergency surgery to remove the spear. It appeared that the spear had been in the turtle for some time.

This is a horrific act, and sadly, not the first time this type of tragedy has occurred this summer. All sea turtles are protected by the US Endangered Species Act, and someone killing a turtle can be tried both criminally and civilly, facing up to a year in prison and maximum fines of $100,000.

At this time, Splinter is recovering. and while his condition is still guarded, he is doing well. He is very active, but not eating as he should. Hopefully his appetite will improve and his future includes being released back into the ocean.

In the meantime, Richie Moretti, founder of The Turtle Hospital, has offered a $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for shooting splinter. Local fisherman have added $20,000 to that reward, for a total of $25,000 reward monies. Anyone with information is urged to call 305-743-2552. Callers may remain anonymous.
Florida Keys Nesting Update
"spacer" egg
"spacer" egg and regular egg
SAT volunteers at work
Crawls & Hatchlings to date*:
False Crawls: 39 Nests: 20 Hatchlings: 1876
*NOTE this is NOT a final count and only includes Fla Keys beaches monitored by Save-A-Turtle
Although we're coming to the end of sea turtle nesting season in the Keys, it IS still season so beaches are still being walked, and there are still nests hatching. Last week permitted Save-A-Turtle nesting surveyors excavated 3 nests. Two were WAY past due dates, and turned out to be nothing but false. The third was a hatched nest that yielded 69 live turtles to sea, with a total of 74 eggs (5 unfertilized so no turtles). It is said that leatherbacks are the only sea turtles who lay "spacers" but there have been several loggerhead nests this year which yielded what appears to be spacers, including this recent hatch.

As you view the photos above, you will see what appears to be a spacer in one of our volunteers hand. It is much smaller than an egg, and then in another photo there's a picture of the apparent spacer next to a shell which had hatched. You can see the size differential, it is significant. Further the spacer type eggs are just like leatherback spacers... yolkless. It's not completely understood or known what the purpose of spacers are in sea turtle nests (leatherbacks again are the only ones said to lay spacers) but it may have to do with gas exchange in the nest. So, while we cannot say these are spacers, they have the same qualities.

Great job to all our volunteers who came out to gather the data for the State. We fought off no-see-ums, mosquitos, and what seemed like relentless heat... not a speck of breeze for us that night. It's still sea turtle nesting season, so remember LIGHTS OUT FOR SEA TURTLES! Great work, flippers up!
Save-A-Turtle Scholarships
"I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride....." Greatest love of all, Whitney Houston
Recently SAT VP Sherri Crilly and Board Member Randy Beck attended a Scholarship social at the College of the Florida Keys (formerly Florida Keys Community College. It was a lovely event whereas the college recognized individuals and organizations who make these scholarships possible. Many of the students who received the scholarships were in attendance as well.

It was wonderful to meet these students, engage in conversation with them and hear their stories. One particular young woman we spoke with is from Alaska. She is majoring in Marine Sciences and is one of only 2 siblings out of 6 that graduated high school, and the only one to attend college.
The other student we spoke with, Jason, is majoring in diving. His enthusiasm and passion for coral restoration was uplifting and hopeful.
Randy is a master diver who volunteers countless hours with Coral Restoration Foundation and planting of new corals. Randy and Jason had quite the conversation!

In past years, SAT awarded annual scholarships to students majoring in Marine Sciences at CFK. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irma wiped out all of our supplies, inventory, educational aides and our educational trailer. After working hard to rebuild our organization including financially, we are pleased to once again be able to offer scholarships!

This year we will be awarding two $1000 scholarships to two students at CFK for the 2020 Spring Semester. Eligible full time students must submit an essay explaining their future plans and goals and commit to volunteering a few hours of their time at a local marine or beach clean up here in the Lower Keys.

Our board is very excited to once again be able to offer these scholarships and we look forward to reviewing the spring 2020 applications.

International Coastal Cleanup: These Kids Rock!
Once again, TheirPlanet hit the beaches in the Keys as part of the International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday, Sept 21st. The youth run group founded and led by Kassie (left in photo), daughter of SAT Secretary Kelley Porter gathered a group of 17 volunteers, 9 of which were young teens, to continue their mission of cleaning up our beaches here in the Lower Keys.

This cleanup yielded approximately 1200 pounds of trash in just 2 hours! Participation in the International Coastal Cleanup includes the tedious (and gross) task of actually sorting and counting the trash collected! Surprisingly, not a single cigarette butt was found, BUT over 6400 pieces of micro plastics were, along with 514 bottle caps and over 600' of fishing line from traps and buoys. The strangest piece of trash found? A medical urine collection container. Again....gross! Distance covered on this particular day? .13 miles.

To date, TheirPlanet has removed 3200 lbs of trash over the course of 4 different cleanups from one particular beach, covering a total distance of ONLY 1/2 of a mile with the help of 65 volunteers in 8 hours. Single-handedly this would have taken 520 hours! And yes, plastics (bottles, caps, containers, utensils, packaging) are the biggest problem.

ThierPlanet still has over 1/2 of a mile left to clean, and then they plan on moving to other beaches in the Keys. Watching these kids tackle this huge task truly makes you want to jump in and help. Flippers up to ThierPlanet and all of the volunteers.
Show your Support for Save-A-Turtle
As hatchling season comes to an end, our SAT Officers and Board members are gearing up for the education and outreach season. We will spend the next 6 months travelling throughout the keys teaching people about sea turtles, nesting, lighting issues and so much more. Show your support by purchasing some really cool turtle wear or adoption a baby turtle. All net profits go directly to our conservation & preservation efforts.
Report Sick, Injured or Dead Sea Turtles in Fla to FWCC at 888-404- FWCC