July 2019 Newsletter

CEO Chatter with Jack E. Lighton

Jack Lighton

Dear Friend of LMC,

Greetings from Juno Beach, FL where temperatures are warm and July marks the peak of sea turtle nesting season in Palm Beach County.  Sea turtles nest in up and down cycles, and based on the amount of nests we are marking and monitoring on our local beach, this year’s cycle is proving we are in an up cycle!
Will this year set a sea turtle nesting record To date, we have 16,966 sea turtle nests on the 9.5 mile stretch of beach our research laboratory monitors!  The beach we monitor is one of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches on our planet.  To give you a sense of how many more nests we have this year, the total nest count for last year (season runs from March 1 to October 31 annually) was 11,951 nests.  Given the season doesn’t wrap up until October 31, we very well may see 20,000+ nests this year.  

These numbers are a reason to celebrate however, it is also a good time to recognize that threats to sea turtles are now very different than they were in the 1970s. We ask you to help us reduce single plastic use, keep trash out of our natural world and help us keep our beaches cleaner and darker.  Lots of little items can add up to help preserve our sea turtles for future generations to enjoy!

News from The Sea Turtle Hospital at Loggerhead Marinelife Center: With so many sea turtles swarming our coastline, we have seen a increase in patient intake, and LMC’s team of staff and volunteers are working around the clock to rehabilitate and release our patients so they can get back out into the ocean and preserve their species!  It is critical that everyone in our community is aware of the increased sea turtles and marine life and take extra precautions to enjoy the coastline and local waters in partnership with our wildlife.

Sea Turtle Adoption and Adopt-A-Nest Program:
Our sea turtle adoption program offers a great opportunity to give a gift that truly transforms our patients’ outcomes!  We are also excited to announce our Adopt-A-Nest program which allows guests to get involved and receive updates from a specific nest on our beach!  For more information about this adoption program, please visit: marinelife.org/adopt/

Birthdays at LMC – A-Shell-Of-A-Great-Time! 
Birthday parties at LMC are a GREAT way to celebrate your “hatchling’s” special day while supporting LMC’s mission of sea turtle and ocean conservation!  We have plenty of room for up to 40 guests, and depending on what you want and need for your party, we can take care of optional components, like party favors, food and custom sea turtle cakes.  For more information check out: marinelife.org/birthday 

Here at LMC we say, “The sea turtle tells us the health of the ocean, and the ocean tells us the health of our planet.”  Thank you for being such an important part of our journey. We couldn’t make Waves of Progress without your passionate support.  We look forward to visiting with you on campus in the very near future!

With Gratitude,
Jack E. Lighton
President & CEO

What’s New in Rehab?

These past few months have been very busy for the rehab department due to the many adult turtles in our near-shore waters for mating and nesting season.  This year, with a record high number of turtles in our waters to mate and nest, we are also seeing a large number of strandings. Many of these stranded turtles have been unintentionally hit by boats. The green sea turtles mate at the top of the water and are more vulnerable to vessel strikes than the other mating species in our waters. The rehab team has seen a large number of adult greens with propeller injuries.  Since the beginning of May, the rehab team has worked on 25 stranded sea turtles (alive and dead), and 10 of those had been unintentionally hit by a marine vessel. This includes our adult male green turtle patient, named Galapagos.

Galapagos was found off the Jupiter inlet struggling to dive down. This turtle has a healed boat strike injury on the back end of the carapace, which is causing the turtle to be unable to submerge fully, most likely due to nerve damage caused by the traumatic injury. Presumably, while floating after the first propeller strike, the turtle sustained another propeller strike to the right side of the carapace.  Most often, we see these turtles many days, if not weeks after the initial boat strike injury. After so much time, the wounds are always infected, and may contain sand or other debris within them. This causes a lot of additional problems with the healing and treatment process.

Recently however, the hospital team responded to a call from a boater that believed they had hit a turtle. The subadult loggerhead, now named Hopper, was rescued by the same boater and brought to a nearby marina where we were able to pick up the turtle and bring it back to the hospital. Hopper had been hit on the side of the head and the right side of the carapace by the propeller. Because the injuries were so fresh, these wounds have an increased chance of healing properly with the proper treatments.  The hospital team commends these boaters for their knowledge of who to call and their quick action for bringing the turtle to a marina. We recommend that all boaters on the water keep a sharp eye out for sea turtles on the surface, and be mindful when sharing the waters with marine life. If a collision does occur, it is always best to call our 24/7 stranding number right away. Together in partnership with our recreation enthusiasts (anglers and boaters), we are excited to increase the conversation and education that hopefully will help to reduce the unintended interactions with marine life. If you want to learn more about Galapagos or Hopper, please visit our patient page at https://marinelife.org/patients/  

Conservation Corner

In June, as an added component to our Sea Turtle Awareness Course, LMC hosted a group of five divers to participate in a pilot citizen science program to monitor sea turtles underwater in Palm Beach County. 

As part of the program, LMC has restructured the Sea Turtle Awareness Specialty Class to emphasize the collection of important information on sea turtle sightings as well as non-sightings. Divers trained  through this program will help identify sea turtle species seasonality, distribution, abundance, foraging areas, human interactions, and other activity patterns. 

All data collected during the dives is compiled and maintained by LMC’s Conservation Department. Outstanding findings, such as observations of sea turtles with flipper tags, unintentional vessel strikes or other factors will be recorded. 

Every month, following each Blue Friends Society, underwater, and private beach cleanup, Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s Conservation Department sorts and records each piece of debris removed. 

In June 2019, 11 beach cleanups were evaluated, with 13,547  pieces of debris removed from Florida beaches. Data shows that over 84.5% of debris collected in May was made of plastic. 

The strangest item found this month was a soccer goal. 

We have over 15,000 reasons to celebrate! Our 9.5 mile stretch of beach reached over 15,000 nests! Our research team monitors one of the most densely nested sea turtle beaches in the world! To date, we have 16,966 nests, surpassing last year’s overall total of 11,951. We expect this year to be a high year for greens and loggerheads.

Research Update

Our nighttime tagging work after leatherback season is continuing in full force. In collaboration with the University of South Florida, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, and Biomark, we have started collecting data for a new project in an effort to determine what percentage of our nesting loggerhead population has been unintentionally impacted by boats (and/or other anthropogenic and natural causes). Our plan is to tag 300 nesting loggerheads in order to determine unintentional boat strike prevalence rates. To date, we have tagged over 200 individuals over the last three weeks with 10% of those animals having some type of unintentional boat-related injury. Approximately 20% have at least one type of injury related to unintentional boats, predation, fishing hooks, fishing lines, or other unidentified causes. 

We never expected to see injuries in these numbers. With our nesting loggerhead population being one of the most densely nesting populations in the world, these numbers are quite alarming. We are continuing our sample collection over the next couple of weeks. One unexpected benefit of this study is that we are seeing a number of these turtles during subsequent nesting events on our beaches, giving us added data regarding interesting intervals and fidelity to our LMC-monitored beaches.

Hatchling Release and Sunrise Nest Excavation 
Register now!

The Hatchling Release program at Loggerhead Marinelife Center is a unique experience that allows our visitors to learn about sea turtles and the nesting and hatching process. The program begins with an after-hours experience to view our current patients in LMC’s Outdoor Sea Turtle Hospital, followed by a presentation and ends with a trip to the beach to see LMC staff release sea turtle hatchlings into the ocean.
Cost: $18/nonmembers; $16/members
Ages: 8+
Time: Daily in August at 8 p.m.

The Sunrise Nest Excavation program is a unique opportunity for Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) educators to give the public insight into LMC’s research department. With permission from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a permitted staff member will lead guests down onto Juno or Tequesta beaches to discuss the nesting and hatching processes of sea turtles. After an introduction to these processes, guests may have the opportunity to witness a live excavation and create their own data sheets to take home as a memento.
Cost: $18/nonmembers; $16/members
Ages: 8+
Time: August – September, Wednesdays – Sundays at 7 a.m

Knowledge is Power!

Celebrate Your Next Birthday at LMC!

Come shell-e-brate your child’s next birthday at Loggerhead Marinelife Center and support sea turtle research, rehabilitation, and education. Enjoy a fun-filled birthday with one of our four different Deluxe Themes! Feel good while you celebrate knowing that all of our party supplies and decorations are reusable.

Choose from our turtle-y fun Sea Turtle Theme, our jaw-some Shark Theme, our fin-tastic Mermaid Theme or, older children are “shore” to have a splash with our Marine Animal Rescue Theme! 

Homeschool Workshops

Registration is now open for Homeschool Workshops!

Loggerhead Marinelife Center now offers workshops exclusively for homeschool students! This workshop series focuses on various marine science topics, including marine biology, coastal ecology, veterinary science, fisheries, oceanography, and ocean conservation.

These workshops include hands-on activities and lessons for students ages 6-9 and 10-13.

Cost is $10/student for the 1.5-hour program; one free chaperone per family is required (and must stay on campus for the duration of the program). 

To view the Fall 2019 schedule or register, click below.

Marine Science Academy
Now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 Marine Science Academy Program! 

Loggerhead Marinelife Center is continuing the “Marine Science Academy” (MSA) program that will introduce high school students to interdisciplinary topics in marine science and ocean conservation through monthly meet-ups at ecologically important areas in Palm Beach County.

Funded by the Loxahatchee Club Educational Foundation, MSA is open to high school students (grades 9-12) within Palm Beach and Martin Counties. Over the course of the 2019-2020 academic school year, students will participate in outings, trainings, workshops, and service opportunities. There is no fee associated with membership in MSA.

MSA activities will include:

  • Field Experiences (kayaking, snorkeling, using transects and quadrats to estimate percent cover)
  • Aquatic and marine species collection and observation
  • Citizen Science training (species counts, sky quality monitoring, in-water debris removal)
  • Topics in marine biology, coastal ecology, oceanography, and marine geology
  • Topics in ocean careers
  • Conservation projects
  • Volunteering with Loggerhead Marinelife Center (all members must volunteer at LMC a minimum of 40 hours during Fall 2019 – Summer 2020)

Adoption Spotlight

Don’t forget about our Adopt-a Nest program! For the Months of March-October, you can adopt a loggerhead, green and leatherback nest. When nesting season ends, adoptees will be emailed an update on their nest! Our researchers have already recorded over 15,000 nests this year. Be sure to support and adopt a nest today!

Volunteer Spotlight

This month we would like to recognize a volunteer who has shown exceptional commitment to our mission. We are pleased to announce Scott Vogel as our Volunteer of the Month.

Since his start in January 2016, Scott has served 400 hours in our Education Department.

During this time, he has been a huge asset to our Field Trip program. In addition to his daytime volunteer duties, Scott also serves as a nighttime Turtle Walk presenter.

Scott is knowledgeable, energetic and flexible; three traits highly coveted in our Education department. He brings a positive attitude to each shift and takes pride in engaging everyone he meets with our mission of sea turtle and ocean conservation. Thank you for all you do, Scott!

Mascot Corner: Will You Help?

Hello Friends,

Fletch here, the lovable and huggable Loggerhead Marinelife Center  mascot. What do humans leave everywhere they go?  The answer is TRASH, a lot of trash in many shapes and sizes.  So, I need your help to eliminate trash in the environment, especially on beaches and in my ocean home.  Will you help? 

On any given day, marine life is exposed to plastic, plastic, and more plastic (bags, bottles and straws), as well as monofilament fishing line, aluminum cans, disposable diapers, 6-pack rings, tin cans, balloons, foam containers, and the list goes on.  Trash in the environment is left by humans, not us reptiles, birds, fish or four-legged animals.

Since trash has a very negative impact on my sea turtle and ocean friends’ home and their quality of life, I must address this problem!  So, “What is Trash?” Webster states “It’s something worth little or nothing, waste, unwanted or undesired.” Now, let’s take a closer look at the word TRASH, from a sea turtle’s perspective, one letter at a time:

Throw away the item, “Don’t Litter”, and when possible

Reduce the waste you produce and reuse or recycle the item

Accept the challenge, to live as part of your daily lifestyle my 4R’s&oneC:

  • Reduce the amount of waste you produce
  • Reuse something instead of throwing it away
  • Recycle something old and make it into something new
  • Respect the environment, never trash it, and
  • Cleanup the environment where others have trashed it

Save the environment by respecting it. “Never trash it”, and cleanup where others have “Trashed it”

Help save the ocean, my sea turtle and ocean friends call HOME

You can help save my ocean home from trash by taking the “Marinelife Guardian Pledge” and sharing it with family, friends, teachers, classmates, co-workers and social media friends. 

Take the Pledge now and live it as part of your daily lifestyle.  Protecting the marine environment starts with YOU.

I PLEDGE to reduce, reuse, recycle,
respect the environment, never
trash it and cleanup where others
have trashed it.

There is a lot of work to do.  Let’s get started!  

Brick Pavers

Purchase a brick paver to be placed in the walkway of our new outdoor Sea Turtle Hospital during our campus expansion. The bricks can be engraved with a brief message (and turtle logo). 8X4 – $250 – Limit 60 characters including spaces, 36 if including a logo 8X8 – $450 – Limit 120 characters including spaces, 80 if including a logo.

Shop Where it Counts

Protect your skin from the hot summer sun with Caribbean Sol SPF 30 Sunscreen. It is free from damaging chemicals such as Oxybenzone and Octinoxate which have been scientifically proven to cause harm to our Coral Reef Systems. Also, to block both UVB and UVA Rays, Caribbean Sol uses Non-Nano Zinc Oxide, providing broad spectrum protection.

Thank You To Our Outstanding Supporters!

Special thanks to Kaylee Morrone, a proud parent of our past patients, Auntie Roe and Providencia, for raising $50 for LMC from her lemonade stand in Virginia. We thank you for your support and look forward to your next visit!

Thank you so much to Sydney, Stephanie, and Skylar Mandell from the Florida Sea Turtle Company for donating $1,000 to LMC. With a focus on giving back to the community, the Florida Sea Turtle Company donates 10% of net proceeds from their handmade sea turtle bracelet sales to different conservation centers across Florida. Thank you for helping LMC in our mission to protect our threatened and endangered sea turtles.

Thank you to our Blue Friends Society July Beach Cleanup Sponsor: https://ideabar.agency/