BY FAY SPLETT – Active Living Magazine The Florida Keys: a tropical atmosphere that’s sure to appeal to fishing and diving enthusiasts, sun worshipers, seafood lovers, and eco-minded travelers. Stretching …
Celebrate World Turtle Day with Guy Harvey Outpost
May 23rd marks the 17th annual observance of World Turtle Day, where people around the world are encouraged to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats.
Several Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts & Lodges are situated in prime sea turtle or land tortoise territory, and we do whatever we can to protect and conserve these important species– some of which are critically endangered. Here are some suggestions for prospective guests at our properties to learn more about them and get involved in helping them to thrive:
THE ISLANDER, A GUY HARVEY OUTPOST IN ISLAMORADA
The nearby Turtle Hospital in Marathon will celebrate World Turtle Day with the public release of a rescued and rehabilitated loggerhead sea turtle named Don. Join the staff at Sombrero Beach at 9:30 a.m. where Don will be delivered by ambulance and sent back to the ocean. Don was rescued last month from Vaca Cut after he became entangled in fishing line. At the hospital, he was untangled and treated for wounds on his face and shoulder. Come say goodbye to Don as he returns home.
Sea turtle nesting season is full on along the beaches of the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas– mostly among threatened loggerheads and critically endangered hawksbills. At night, the mother turtle crawls ashore, carefully digs a pit in the sand, lays upwards of 100 eggs and then covers the nest with her flippers. About two months or so later, the baby turtles hatch and make their way back to the ocean. But only about one in a thousand survives to adulthood. Many are eaten by fish and birds; others are victims of boat strikes or other manmade threats. The Turtle Hospital provides medical treatment, conducts research, and lobbies local, state and federal governments on behalf of sea turtles.
GUY HARVEY OUTPOST ST. PETE BEACH
St. Pete Beach is an important nesting site for the loggerhead, and occasionally the endangered green and the very rare and critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. The Outpost has modified its beachfront lighting to avoid confusing baby sea turtles returning to the sea as well as adopting a loggerhead nest that is monitored by the non-profit Turtle Trackers of St. Pete Beach.
IGUANA CROSSING, ISABELA ISLAND, GALAPAGOS
The largest of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, Isabela not only is home to the largest colony of giant land tortoises in the archipelago, but also is the islands’ main nesting site for endangered green sea turtles. Guests could be blessed with the eye-popping site of the huge terrestrial reptiles roaming freely around and then later encounter the marine species crawling up on the beach to nest.
GREEN TURTLE CAY, ABACO, BAHAMAS
No surprise how this small island in the Abacos got its name. The non-profit Friends of the Environment, part of the Bahamas Sea Turtle Network, monitors the nesting of green and other turtle species here and throughout the islands. The Friends partner with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey to operate a sister-school program between Green Turtle’s Amy Roberts Primary and a school in Ocean City, NJ where students remove invasive casuarinas from the beach. Also called Australian pines, the trees’ shallow, spreading root systems can impede turtle nesting in the sand.
GUY HARVEY OUTPOST, ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH (opening soon)
St. Augustine Beach is a major loggerhead nesting site, but it also harbors green turtles and the critically-endangered leatherback– the largest of the sea turtle species. Vehicular traffic is prohibited on the beach at night during nesting season. Volunteers associated with the Sea Turtle Hospital at University of Florida’s Whitney Lab near St. Augustine patrol the beach to monitor the nests. The hospital rehabilitates sick and injured turtles and releases them back into the wild when possible. To take a tour of the hospital, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit www.GuyHarveyOutpost.com or call 1-800-513-5257 for more information regarding any of the destinations or for your next Turtle Adventure.