Tourists meet turtles: Volunteers talk education as turtle season begins

Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 01:20 PM.

Maxwell called one of her Turtle Watch volunteers to go down and check on the situation.

By the time volunteer Erica Magera arrived, Day and a vendor had gone into the water and picked up the small turtle, taken it ashore, and removed a hook that was caught in its neck. The turtle was a Kemp's ridley, and the men covered it with a wet towel until Magera arrived. She determined that the turtle appeared healthy.

Magera called Gulf World and the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission and the three entities made the joint decision that since the turtle seemed lively, the least stressful thing to do for the turtle would be to take it back out past the second sand bar and let it go.

That strategy seemed to work as it swam away, said Magera.

South Walton Turtle Watch is made up of a group of volunteers (about 50) who work together with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife to track, mark, monitor, and evaluate sea turtle nests and turtles. The South Walton chapter was founded in April 1995 by Maxwell.

South Walton saw a whopping 97 nests last year, while the average year sees 30 to 35.

For more information, visit www.southwaltonturtlewatch.org.



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