Permit Holder Meeting Press Release Hundreds of Sea Turtle Advocates Gather in Melbourne Beach

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1 Permit Holder Meeting Press Release 2015 Hundreds of Sea Turtle Advocates Gather in Melbourne Beach City Hosts 18th Annual Florida Marine Turtle Permit Holder Meeting GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 6, Nearly 400 sea turtle enthusiasts from across the state will gather in Melbourne Beach from March 6-8 for the 18th annual Florida Marine Turtle Permit Holder Meeting. The theme, "Permit Holders & Sea Turtles: Ambassadors for Conservation," highlights the importance of education efforts in sea turtle conservation. The Florida Marine Turtle Permit Holder Meeting is an annual tradition for Florida's sea turtle community and an important part of the Florida Marine Turtle Protection Program. The meeting, hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC), brings together leading sea turtle experts, Florida's Marine Turtle Permit Holders and dedicated volunteers to discuss current research, trends and emerging issues in sea turtle conservation across the state. The meeting at the Crowne Plaza Melbourne begins on the evening of March 6 with a sea turtle social, followed on Saturday by a full day of presentations by FWC, STC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service and more. Presentation topics will include updates on the 2014 nesting season, stranding trends, updates on sea turtle lighting issues and the latest conservation and ambassador education efforts. "Florida's Marine Turtle Permit Holders and their volunteers form the backbone of sea turtle conservation in Florida," Dr. Robbin Trindell, Biological Administrator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, stated proudly. "Florida's sea turtles are supported by a network of volunteers who work tirelessly to protect nests, respond to injured turtles, and to educate their neighbors and visitors to Florida's beaches and coastal areas about the five species of sea turtles that occur here." The annual meeting is returning to Melbourne Beach in Brevard County for the first time since Brevard County beaches support high-density nesting for the threatened loggerhead and the endangered green turtle - up to 25 to 35 percent of all nests in the U.S. for both species occur on these beaches. Leatherback turtles, one of the world's largest and rarest sea turtle species, also return to nest here. The area is of extra importance to sea turtles and those who work tirelessly to conserve them due to its proximity to the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is named after the late Dr. Archie Carr, Jr., who was the founding scientific director of STC and made extraordinary contributions to sea turtle conservation during his lifetime. The refuge is also home to the Barrier Island Center, an educational center STC uses to manage and conduct educational programs through partnership with the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (EELS). 1

2 "Sea turtles are a popular and iconic part of Florida's beaches and coastal waters," said David Godfrey, Executive Director of Sea Turtle Conservancy, "and they are indicators of how well we are protecting these resources. The dedicated community of biologists, agency staff and volunteers who make up the Florida Sea Turtle Permit Holders are working together to ensure a bright future both for sea turtles and the habitats they depend upon." Florida residents and visitors can help protect sea turtles by not disturbing nesting turtles and their eggs and by turning off or using sea turtle friendly lighting along the coast during the April- October nesting season. It is also important to clear beaches of chairs, boats and other obstacles at night and to properly dispose of fishing line. Florida residents can also help by purchasing the Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate at their local tax collector's office. Proceeds from the sea turtle tag support the FWC's Marine Turtle Protection Program, as well as the Sea Turtle Grants Program, which awards funding to local groups, universities and counties throughout Florida to support sea turtle research, education and conservation. More information on sea turtles and how to help them can be found at orwww.myfwc.com/seaturtle. For more information about the 2015 Florida Marine Turtle Permit Holder Meeting, visit the official website at Please note - This event is for Florida Marine Turtle Permit Holders and their volunteers only. It is not open to the general public. Registration is closed. 2

3 Fifth Annual Sea Turtles Dig the Dune Workshop Feb. 7th Posted on January 14, 2015 by STC Join STC on Saturday, February 7 at 10 a.m. at the Barrier Island Center(BIC) for a morning of planting sea oats throughout the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge (ACNWR) as part of our Annual Sea Turtles Dig the Dune Workshop! The ACNWR is one of the most important nesting beaches in the world and stretches across 20.5 miles between Melbourne Beach and Wabasso Beach along Florida s east coast. Coastal residents and communities will be given free sea oat seedlings and planting permits. Together we can help to restore the dunes and sea turtle nesting habitat of the ACNWR! After a morning of plantings everyone is invited to return to the BIC, which is located in the heart of the ACNWR, at noon. Long time sea turtle biologist Larry Wood, leader of the Florida Hawksbill Project, will then give a presentation. Wood will discuss his team s recent studies documenting the abundance, origins and activities of the hawksbill sea turtles that inhabit coral reefs off south Florida s coast. Refreshments will be served. At last year s workshop, more than 100 volunteers joined forces to plant more than 5,000 sea oats! Enrollment in the FREE workshop is limited, so call to make your reservation by Friday, January 30. This workshop was partially funded by the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Link to blog post: 3

4 Join STC for a Cuba Sea Turtle & Cultural Expedition in September 2015 Posted on March 23, 2015 by STC For the first time ever, STC is partnering with the Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program, The Ocean Foundation and Holbrook Travel to offer a Sea Turtle and Cultural Expedition to Cuba from September 4th-12th, Participants will visit Havana, the Guanahacabibes Peninsula and Vinales over the course of the expedition. CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE OFFICIAL ITINERARY. Participants will have the opportunity to look for turtles coming ashore on the beaches of the Guanahacabibes Peninsula and observe the nesting process. The group will return to a turtle nesting beach the following day to document any tracks from the previous night. Hours later, participants will return to the turtle beach where they will have the opportunity to help the researchers measure the turtles and record data. Program highlights: Travel with two experts from the Sea Turtle Conservancy and a Cuban marine turtle specialist. Observe the nesting process of green sea turtles and collect data with biologists. Snorkel the clear waters of the coral reef at Maria la Gorda (optional scuba diving may also be available at an additional charge). Meet with local conservationists, marine researchers and a wildlife artist. Visit the picturesque town of Vinales. Stop at Hemingway s home, Finca La Vigia. Support the ongoing research and conservation projects of The Ocean Foundation Participants will also enjoy activities such as a walking tour of Old Havana, a visit to the National Museum of Natural History, a visit to the Alamar Organoponic Gardens and leisure time. The Center for Marine Research has hosted similar trips in the last couple of years, but this is the first time this experience will be made available to U.S. Citizens without special permits following the change in Cuban-American policy announced by President Obama and the State Department earlier this year. Both STC and Center for Marine Research experts will host the expedition. The beaches of the Guanahacabibes National Park are home to the second largest breeding population of green sea turtles in Cuba with an average of more than 300 nests per season. 4

5 2013 was a record year for the park s beaches with nearly 900 nests recorded! Through the efforts of University of Havana s Center for Marine Investigations, an estimated 14,000 hatchlings were saved. You will get to participate directly in this successful Cuban conservation program, with a portion of your trip fees going directly to support this ongoing work. Program pricing: $3189 plus airfare Cost includes gratuities, Miami/Tampa hotel and donations to the Cuban Society for the Protection of the Environment and Sea Turtle Conservancy. Cost does not include international airfare estimated at $600 from Miami or Tampa (estimate includes visa fee). Information and registration: For further information, visit the expedition s event page on Facebook To see a full itinerary of the expedition and secure your spot, visit Holbrook travel s official expedition page or click here to register. For further questions, contact Lisa Palmese-Graubard by at or by phone at x339 Link to blog post: 5

6 Sea Turtle Grants Program Awards More Than $296,000 to Support Sea Turtle Research, Conservation and Education in Florida Posted on April 2, 2015 by STC The Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), funded by the sale of Florida s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate, recently awarded $296,838 to 26 different projects benefiting Florida sea turtles as part of the grant funding cycle. Each year, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes money to coastal county governments, educational institutions and nonprofit groups through a competitive application process. The sea turtle specialty license plate is also the primary source of funding for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission s Marine Turtle Protection Program. The following organizations received grants for their approved projects for the cycle: Marineland Dolphin Adventure: Protect Sea Turtles card and key tags Gulf Specimen Marine Lab: Improving the capacity to care for injured sea turtles Inwater Research Group: Treasure Coast Sea Turtle Outreach Program for At-Risk Youth Coastal Biology, Inc.: Presentation and night vision equipment for Turtle Walks University of Central Florida: Research vessel for in-water assessment of juvenile sea turtles in the Indian River Lagoon Friends of Agriculture Extension, Inc.: 5th grade Sea Turtle Curriculum Volusia County Environmental Management: Sea turtle ambassador and educational outreach program Inwater Research Group: Large Green Turtles of the Marquesas Keys and Surrounding Waters Mote Marine Laboratory: Service plan for the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital s laser Sea Turtle Conservancy: Florida Sea Turtle Educational Materials Warehouse Project Hidden Harbor Marine Environmental Project (The Turtle Hospital): Supplies and equipment to support the Turtle Hospital Educational Outreach Programs Palm Beach County: Assessment of multiple sand sources used in beach nourishment East Coast Zoological Society of Florida (Brevard Zoo): Brevard Zoo Sea Turtle Hospital University of Central Florida: Migratory ecology and reproductive output of the green turtles (Chelonia mydas) nesting on the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife: Sea turtle endoscopy equipment Sea Turtle Conservancy: Tour de Turtles 2015 Educational Program Broward County: Public beach access sea turtle informational signs City of Sanibel: Sea Turtle Lighting Campaign After 9, it s turtle time! 6

7 University of Central Florida: Adult green turtles (Chelonia mydas) of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge Florida Atlantic University: Mating system determination of imperiled marine turtles and an assessment of operational sex ratio Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program: Expansion of sea turtle education programs at the Barrier Island Sanctuary Management and Education Center Mote Marine Laboratory: Southwest Florida loggerhead rookeries as long-term collaborative tagging experiment Gulf World Marine Institute: Large animal scale for stranded sea turtles Sea Turtle Preservation Society: Lights, Balloons, Boats, Fishing/The Message University of Florida (Whitney Laboratory): Outfitting a surgical and treatment suite for Whitney s Sea Turtle Hospital Gulf World Marine Institute: Konica CR Radiograph System Upgrade The sea turtle plate is the number two overall selling specialty tag in Florida, and the number one environmental specialty plate. By purchasing the sea turtle specialty license plate, Floridians are voluntarily funding important programs to save endangered sea turtles and their habitats. To learn more about the Sea Turtle Grants Program and the Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate, please visit Link to blog post: 7

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