Volunteers, interns protect turtle nests on Cayo Costa

Reporter: Amanda Hall

CAPTIVA, Fla. A new program at Cayo Costa State Park is helping keep endangered loggerhead turtle nests safe.

Volunteers and interns patrolled Cayo Costa’s 9 miles of shorelines Friday in a new equipment vehicle, part of an effort to help the hatchlings to survive long enough to return to sea.

Funds from a new “Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest” program paid for the vehicle and will continue to fund equipment for research, education and protection. But the program is in need of more volunteers, said Cookie Brenner, one of those on turtle patrol Friday.

“Once you’ve started, you don’t want to stop,” Brenner said. It’s just a remarkable experience.”

The park is soliciting volunteers on its website. Friday’s crew discovered eggshells where a raccoon or coyote had eaten the eggs and sprung into action to place a screen over the nest to save the remaining eggs.

Crew members took GPS coordinates and posted signs to mark the nest’s location and help others in the program monitor it until the eggs hatch.

Success is measured in small doses — only about one out of every 100 hatchlings reach adulthood. But the experience of being on the crew is a valuable lesson on the Southwest Florida ecosystem, Florida Gulf Coast University intern Stephanie Crooks said.

“I’ll definitely be able to educate more people about better on nesting beaches, about how to stay clear and let the people who know how, handle it,” Crooks said.


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