Immense, powerful and eternal – all words that have been used to describe the ocean. Yet in spite of its timeless beauty, most of us are starting to realize the ocean is actually a fragile place.

What’s the greatest threat facing the deep blue? Take your pick. Global fish populations are being depleted rapidly due to unsustainable fishing practices. Plastics end up as ocean debris in even the most pristine places.

plastic-bags

Photo courtesy of  Project GreenBag

Big problems? Yes. Insurmountable? No. There are things everyone – including those of us that live nowhere near the ocean – can do to help. Buy sustainable seafood (there’s an app for that). Use less plastic (use reusable canvas bags). Support organizations that protect the ocean and the amazing life within it.

It’s true that here at Clearwater Marine Aquarium we think “ocean” every day. But as folks from across the globe come through our doors, we hear wonderful stories of things that ordinary people are doing to help the big blue. They adopt an ocean friend through one of our marine life adoption programs, make smart seafood choices or they find new ways to learn more about marine conservation.

What’s one of your favorite ways to help marine life and our oceans? What advice do you have for someone just getting started?

As the Sea Turtle Nesting Team was out patrolling the beaches, they discovered a mama loggerhead nesting. This is normally done at night so it was quite a special treat to see this happening in broad daylight.

NESTING SEASON UPDATE: The 2011 sea turtle nesting season is off to a good start. As of July 5, we have found 68 nests in our patrol area which stretches from the south end of Caladesi Island State Park, through Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach. Our first nest was found on May 5, at Sand Key Park. For the 2009 nesting season our first nest was found on May 23, and as of June 22, 2010 we had found 31 nests. In 2010, we ended up with a total of 119 nests. Hopefully with the start that we have had this year, we will beat last year’s nest numbers.

Generally in our area we only see loggerhead turtle nests, but last year nest 119 was laid by a green turtle. This is the first time CMA has ever recorded a green turtle nest. This year we have already had a few unexpected surprises – we have already recorded two Kemp’s Ridley nests in our area. The last time we’ve seen these in our area was 2002. It’s already been an exciting season and it is still very early.

Nests will start hatching in the next week so it’s about to get even busier. Luckily we had a great turnout at our annual sea turtle nesting volunteer orientation meetings which were held early in June. Along with the team of eager nest sitting volunteers, we also have four enthusiastic interns, Christa, Dana, Emily, and Jessica. Also, Beverly Austin, who was a 2010 nesting intern, has stayed with us and is using her experience to help with morning patrol and to train the new interns.

Adopt a Nest Today!

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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