Three Days, Nine Piers
Tommy and I returned yesterday from our trip to Florida’s Panhandle to check in with our partners and the participating piers in the area. We spent some time on the piers, walking the length of each, watching fish being reeled in, and spotting turtles. We met with managers to discuss the success of the Initiative and ways in which we could improve the program at each pier.
The northern Gulf of Mexico provides important habitat for many species of sea turtles. Both Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center and Gulf Specimen Aquarium, our partner organizations in the Panhandle, have rescued several pier–hooked turtles in the last week. The rescues included at least four Kemp’s ridleys, the most critically endangered sea turtle species, as well as juvenile greens, and large loggerheads.
The area also serves as a popular fishing destination. Each pier we visited was busier than the last. With such large numbers of both sea turtles and fishermen, it’s the perfect location for the Responsible Pier Initiative. Collaboration between the fishing community and sea turtle rescue centers is having a great impact in the Panhandle and we are very excited to continue strengthening those partnerships and working towards the mutual goal: protecting the marine environment.
Many piers in the area could benefit from more signage, supplies, and volunteers. We are working to schedule a follow-up trip later this summer.
Tomorrow, we leave for North Carolina to implement the RPI on the first pier in the state. We are looking forward to beginning our latest partnership with the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island.