Happy New Year, sea turtle supporters! The 2023 season in Florida was truly remarkable, setting new benchmarks in sea turtle conservation. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the end-of-season nesting totals were nothing short of historic. Loggerheads set a new record with 134,040 nests, surpassing the previous high of 122,707 in 2016. Green turtles also exceeded expectations with 76,645 nests, shattering their 2017 record of 53,102. Additionally, they saw 1,711 nests from Leatherbacks and a noteworthy 10 nests from the rare Kemp’s Ridley.
The Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) team’s efforts extended beyond Florida, with significant progress reported from Panama. This region is crucial for the survival of endangered leatherback turtles and critically endangered hawksbills. Despite challenges like illegal hunting, our hope is bolstered by increased local law enforcement support and the successful operation of STC’s protected turtle hatchery. The numbers speak for themselves: Chiriqui saw 2,229 leatherback and 1,289 hawksbill nests, Soropta reported 1,001 leatherback and 14 hawksbill nests, and Bluff had 125 leatherback and 120 hawksbill nests, among other impressive figures across various locations.
2023 was also a landmark year for STC’s satellite transmitter program. They equipped 30 turtles in Florida and the Caribbean with these devices, providing invaluable data on their movements and behaviors. Many of these turtles continue to be tracked, offering them a real-time window into their world. You can join in this exciting journey by downloading their FREE STC Turtle Tracker App or visiting their website.
As we step into 2024, we invite you to participate in their upcoming events. Whether you join them virtually or in person, your support is crucial in advancing their mission. Mark your calendars for the Wildlife Friendly Lighting Lunch and Learn Webinar on January 23, the Ocean Treasure’s Festival on February 10, and the Tee Off for Turtles Golf Tournament on March 9. These events promise to be both educational and entertaining, furthering their collective efforts to protect these magnificent creatures.
The excitement continues with their Tour de Turtles Art Design Contest. They’re calling on all artists and graphic designers to contribute their creativity to this vital cause. Your designs will not only celebrate the migration marathon of loggerhead, green, hawksbill, and leatherback turtles but also inspire and engage the wider community in their conservation efforts. The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2024, so unleash your creativity for a chance to see your design featured on their Tour de Turtles shirts!
Finally, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, what better way to express your affection than by adopting a sea turtle for your loved one? This unique gift not only brings joy to your Valentine but also contributes directly to the conservation of these beautiful animals. Depending on your donation level, your sweetheart can receive a personalized turtle adoption packet, the opportunity to track a sea turtle, and even a charming turtle plushie or calendar. Together, we can continue to make a significant difference in the lives of these incredible creatures.
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