First stop : Fernandina Beach
Our tour of the state started yesterday afternoon when I learned that I would be given the keys to the turtle ambulance for the week – an opportunity I have been hoping for since my start at Loggerhead. From Juno Beach, we drove north to Amelia Island and the city of Fernandina Beach, a small, seaside town with residents dedicated to protecting the local sea turtles. They have already encountered several green sea turtles off of their piers and recorded over 30 loggerhead nests on their beaches this year.
The Responsible Pier Initiative is so valuable in these areas of important sea turtle habitat. More than 250,000 sea turtles are accidentally captured, injured, or killed by U.S. fishermen each year, many while they are migrating through fishing areas. The methods employed by the Responsible Pier Initiative have already proven effective in aiding sea turtles near participating piers in the state and allowed for the removal of over 1,500 pounds of debris from beneath the Juno Beach Pier alone.
This morning, Kerri and I presented the first Responsible Pier Initiative workshop of the week at the Fernandina Beach City Hall. We distributed educational signs and nets to a marina here and spoke with representatives for several piers. There is a lot of interest in expanding the Responsible Pier Initiative in the area, a goal we are very excited to work toward. We hope to come back in the future, armed with more signs and nets to train more First Responders.
Next, I’m off to Panama City. Stay tuned for updates throughout the week.