The Nest was Found on Sand Key Beach on May 5th

cmalogoClearwater, Fla. (July 1, 2011) –Loggerhead hatchlings made their way to the water last night marking the beginning of an important time at Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA). Staff and volunteers have located 60 nests so far this season, which is up from 44 nests last year at this time. The first nest hatched on July 14th last year. Once the hatchlings make their way out of the shell they head toward the light of the horizon. Once they reach the water, approximately 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will make it to adulthood.

CMA oversees sea turtle nesting on 26 miles of Pinellas County beaches, locating and protecting nests and ensuring the hatchlings make their way into the gulf. During the night, from May through September, the 350-pound female Loggerhead sea turtles come ashore to deposit their eggs. Over the last four years, CMA has helped more than 35,000 hatchlings make their way into the Gulf. In 2010, 119 nests were located on Pinellas County beaches, the first being found on May 24. Over 200 volunteers help with the nesting program.

Here are some sea turtle safety reminders:

• Do turn off outside lights, draw drapes and avoid using flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach from May 1 to October 31.

• Do Not harass adult turtles as they make their way back to sea. They may appear slow or hesitant and this is normal.

• If you see an adult turtle, Do Not approach, make noises, shine lights or use photo equipment with a flash.

• Do Not pick up hatchlings heading toward the water.

If you have concerns about nesting turtles or hatchlings seen on the beach, contact CMA’s sea turtle department at 717-441-1790 x 224 and leave a detailed message expressing your concern.

wally-releaseToday marked the 10th successful sea turtle release for Clearwater Marine Aquarium so far this year. Wally is a juvenile Kemps Ridley that came to CMA on May 18th. A fisherman caught Wally at the Redington Beach Pier on his line. Wally had swallowed the fisherman’s baited hook along with some heavy test line. While viewing x-rays, the CMA turtle team was able to visualize the hook. With the aid of CMA’s veterinarian, Dr. Mike Walsh, CMA turtle staff and volunteers were able to extract the hook and line. After three weeks of healing the wounds in his esophagus, he began eating well and it was determined that he was eligible for release.

A fisherman hooking a sea turtle is not a rare occurrence in the Tampa Bay area. Here are some tips for responsible fishing and what to do if a sea turtle is hooked.

• Use barbless hooks or circle hooks versus J hooks with barbs.

• If you hook a sea turtle, do not reel it in, try to net the turtle.

• Do not try to extract the hook as this can cause more damage to the throat.

• If you must cut the line, leave at least two feet of line behind to tie off and stop the hook from migrating and causing further damage.

• Do not try to release the sea turtle. Call Florida Fish and Wildlife 1-888-404-3922 and Clearwater Marine Aquarium 1-727-441-1790 ext 234 and let us know you have a hooked sea turtle.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is currently one of the largest sea turtle rehabilitation facilities in Florida. The upcoming $12 million dollar expansion of CMA includes new, state-of-the-art rehabilitation facilities and will double the current capacity for rehabilitating turtles.

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