Gulf Trace recognized for being sea turtle friendly

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 03:00 PM.


This past year held major significance for Sharon Maxwell of the South Walton Turtle Watch, which saw a record number of sea turtles visiting the South Walton shores in 2012.

"On average we see 35 to 40 sea turtles," she said. "Last year, it was 97."

The Sea Turtle Watch is comprised of a group of volunteers who protect endangered and threatened sea turtle nests during nesting and hatching season. Volunteers gather information, such as measuring tracks, to send to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to use in their state data.

Florida is home to five different species of sea turtles, four of which were spotted in Walton County in 2012 — loggerhead, green, leatherback, and the Kemp's ridley sea turtles were all represented.

The 2013 nesting season begins May 1 and ends October 31. Maxwell said she has no idea what to expect this year.

"You never know," she said. "We weren't expecting a record number last year."

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