CEO Chatter with Jack E. Lighton
Dear Friend of LMC,
As ‘hatchlings’ head back to school, we have some record breaking news to report from Juno Beach, Florida. The 2019 sea turtle nesting season (March 1st through October 31st) has shattered our previous nesting season record, set in 2017, with just over 19,000 sea turtle nests on the 9.5 mile stretch of beach our research laboratory monitors. This year, to-date we have recorded 20,375 sea turtle nests and we still have 2.5 months left in our nesting season! In a future issue of our eNews we will share with you the amazing number of sea turtle hatchlings likely to be produced on our 9.5 mile stretch of beach this nesting season. Until then, here is a helpful Q&A to understand sea turtle conservation here in Florida:
Question: “Why are there so many nests this year?”
Answer: “Sea turtles nest in cycles, some years we have more nests, some we have less nests. The good news is that the trends in Florida are up over time! This very positive news is a direct result of the hard work of women, men, institutions, and agencies which kicked off in the 1970’s with the roll out of the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act. We are thankful for the efforts of all those who did, continue to, and will help us preserve sea turtles and our magnificent ocean.”
Question: “Why did the work in the 1970s result in today’s record sea turtle nesting counts?”
Answer: “Because it takes sea turtles about 20 years to reach reproductive adulthood so we have had to go through several decades of nesting cycles and data collection to recognize the return on our investments from the 1970s! We like to say, “Conservation in action.”
Question: “These nesting counts are fantastic! Are sea turtles now considered recovered in Florida?”
Answer: “No, sea turtles in FL are still threatened or endangered. While these numbers are encouraging it is very important to note the following:”
1.) Sea turtle’s natural odds of survival are quite low. We believe only about 1 sea turtle hatchling in 1,000 hatchlings makes it to reproductive adulthood
2.) Odds for sea turtles today are vastly different than they were in the 1970s.
Question: “What threats are LMC’s research laboratory and sea turtle hospital analyzing?”
Answer: Our research laboratory and sea turtle hospital are analyzing the effects of water quality, trash, erosion, and heat on sea turtles.
Water Quality: Our local waters are increasingly troubled by bacterias and algal blooms (blue green algae and red tide) this impacts the sea turtle habitats and food sources.
Trash: Unfortunately, 100% of sea turtle patients who come into our hospital have plastic ingestion. Discarded trash impacts our oceans and marine life inhabiting it.
Erosion: Sea turtles (and beach goers) need sand, we are observing higher levels of beach erosion.
Heat: Recently, we have seen record summertime temperatures, which impacts the incubation temperature and gender formation of sea turtles; the hotter the temperature the more female hatchlings are produced, the cooler the temperature, the more male sea turtles develop.
The very good news:
More people, organizations, and corporations are getting involved in reducing single use plastics and optimizing their energy usage and Co2 outputs, we absolutely see #WavesOfProgress on our planet with more and more people getting involved in our mission! One way you can help us expand our impact and our mission is to support our expansion campaign. With your continued support we will continue to turn-the-tide for our sea turtles and our ocean. To find out more about how you can help our expansion campaign, please visit: marinelife.org/expansion/
Programs and Events at LMC: Aside from our very exciting sea turtle nesting news, we have two wonderful programs I would like to highlight for you:
1.) Seasonal Day Camps are back!
Do you have an aspiring scientist, marine biologist or animal lover that would love to follow in the footsteps of our staff members? Consider having them join us for a seasonal day camp which takes place around holidays, such as Labor Day and Winter Breaks! All camps are aligned with The School District of Palm Beach County’s school calendar and are fun and unique ways for eager learners to get involved in our mission. For more information, please visit: https://marinelife.org/seasonalcamp/
2.) On Friday, October 25th, we will host our 11th Annual Go Blue Awards Luncheon at the Kravis Center, West Palm Beach Florida. Keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Ballard, a National Geographic Explorer in Residence and discoverer of the Titanic, will discuss ocean conservation, his explorations, and his mission to find Amelia Earhart’s missing plane! Before August 25th, nominate an Ocean Hero for one of the five award categories; all judging is conducted by an international panel of conservation professionals. While our luncheon is over halfway sold out, tickets and sponsorships remain available. To reserve your sponsorships and tickets today, please visit: www.marinelife.org/goblue
As LMC prepares to expand our campus and our mission, we thank you for your tremendous support. It is the combined effort of our staff, volunteers, guests, students, and passionate supporters that continues to power our mission to new heights. If you haven’t already joined our Capital Expansion family, please consider joining us. With your continued support, we will accelerate and amplify our impact here in Florida and across our beautiful blue planet.
We look forward to visiting with you on Campus or at our 11th Annual Go Blue Awards Luncheon soon!
Jack E. Lighton
President & CEO
The Eleventh Annual Go Blue Awards Luncheon
The Eleventh Annual Go Blue Awards recognizes individuals and organizations who are leading the community in practicing ocean conservation and are on the leading edge of going “Blue!” Featuring special guest and keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Ballard.
The Eleventh Annual Go Blue Awards Luncheon will be held on Friday, October 25, 2019 at the Kravis Center’s Cohen Pavilion in West Palm Beach.
LMC is accepting nominations now for the 2019 Go Blue Awards, which are given annually to four individuals and a business that are making extraordinary contributions by promoting ocean conservation. Nominations can be made through August 25.
What’s New in Rehab?
Hatchling season is typically a very busy time for the hospital team, and this year is no exception. The hospital takes in hatchlings that are unable to make it out to the ocean on their own. This can be due to many factors including disorientation caused by artificial lighting near the beach, birds carrying them off, hatching out during hotter hours of the day, and those that cannot make it out of the nest. Hatchlings are brought to our Center by individuals monitoring nests on our beach and nearby beaches, and by the public. Each day, we often receive multiple calls on our stranding hotline regarding found hatchlings that are either injured or too weak to make it to the ocean on their own. These callers are either instructed to bring the hatchling or hatchlings to the Center, or a member of the hospital team will go and pick up the turtle. We also have a designated hatchling cooler located at the front entrance to the Center in which people can place hatchlings at any time of the day or night; this cooler is checked by the hospital staff regularly.
This summer, the first hatchling emergence from a nest on our monitored stretch of beach occurred on May 30th. Since that date, the hospital has taken in 389 loggerhead, 55 green, 43 leatherback hatchlings, and one possible hawksbill-loggerhead hybrid. We see several hybrid hatchlings each season and typically verify the hybridization through DNA testing. All hatchlings (excluding leatherbacks) that come into the hospital are examined, swim tested and if able, placed into one of our outside hatchling tanks. The hatchlings are then fed two or three times daily with minced Bonito fish until release. We do not keep leatherback hatchlings in our tanks due to their fragility in captivity and their inability to identify tank boundaries. We release our hatchlings offshore by boat every few weeks. They are transported out at least five miles offshore into the Gulf Stream, and are then placed into floating sargassum seaweed mats where they will remain camouflaged from predators and find an abundance of small food items. To adopt a hatchling and support our rehabilitation efforts, please visit marinelife.org/adopt
Loggerhead Marinelife Center was pleased to welcome three new partners to our Responsible Pier Initiative Program—North Carolina’s Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, and Sunset Beach fishing piers.
With these new partners, the Responsible Pier Initiative now encompasses 68 fishing piers in the US (including Puerto Rico) working collaboratively with pier anglers to rescue accidentally hooked or entangled sea turtles.
LMC’s Conservation Department, traveled to North Carolina to conduct on-site RPI pier trainings. Three local turtle rescue groups–the Holden Beach Turtle Watch Program, Ocean Isle Sea Turtle Protection Organization, and Sunset Beach Turtle Watch—were all in attendance and are ready in the event of a sea turtle hooked on one of their piers. New friendships were also established with a wonderful group of people in North Carolina who share LMC’s mission to protect sea turtles.
Every month, following each Blue Friend’s Society, underwater, and private beach cleanup, Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s Conservation Department sorts and records each piece of debris removed from the beach.
In July 2019, 12 beach cleanups were evaluated, with 14,284 pieces of debris removed from Florida beaches. Data shows that over 88.6% of debris collected in May was made of plastic.
The strangest items found this month were a cheese grater and a paintbrush.
We have 20,000 reasons to celebrate! The 9.5-mile stretch of beach that LMC’s research team monitors is one of the most densely nested sea turtle beaches in the world, and this year we have over 20,000 nests so far! We have 187 leatherbacks, 13,288 loggerheads and 6,802 greens for a total of 20,277 nests. This total surpasses our last record breaking nesting season in 2017 with a total of 19,085 nests.
Nesting season facts:
– Official nesting season in Palm Beach County is March 1 – Oct. 31.
– There are approximately 100 eggs per nest, with an average 60 day incubation period.
– It is not known how many hatchlings reach adulthood. However, many years of research have lead experts to predict that approximately 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 eggs produce hatchlings that reach adulthood.
– You can support LMC by adopting a sea turtle nest at marinelife.org/adopt/
June and July are the busiest months for sea turtle nesting in Florida, and this year is an exceptionally busy season. We recorded over 1,000 crawls along our 9.5-mile stretch of beach on four separate nights this year! Typically we may record close to 1,000 crawls on a single night in late June or early July. Our most productive night (with the most nests) was June 30th, with 527 nests. It is important to note that when we refer to crawl activity, we are referring to all nesting attempts by turtles, not just successful nests. Sea turtles regularly “false crawl” and abandon a nesting attempt. We do not know why this occurs, but the rate of false crawls can increase if beaches are too bright or if the turtles are disturbed by humans.
The graph displays the total number of sea turtle nests recorded per month in 2019. Typically, nesting is lower in June than in July, however, this year we recorded over 7,000 nests during both months. This can be attributed to a high green sea turtle nesting season, as loggerhead nesting peaks in late June and green turtles peak in late July. Green sea turtle nesting follows a biennial trend, alternating between high and low years, so we were anticipating the 2019 season to be a high green sea turtle nesting season.
Hatchling Release and Sunrise Nest Excavation
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
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
Time: August – September, Wednesdays – Sundays at 7 a.m
Knowledge is Power!
Seasonal Camp Registration is Now Open!
Looking to get your kids outside while they are off from school? Register your aspiring scientists to follow in the footsteps of our marine biologist staff members as they learn the journey of our sea turtle patients through their recovery and what conservation tools they can employ to make sure no sea turtles get injured on their watch! All seasonal camp days correspond with The School District of Palm Beach County School Calendar.
Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Extended hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) is available for an additional fee.
Ages: 6*-10 years
*Must have completed Kindergarten prior to registration
Dates are filling up quickly, register now!
LMC had the privilege of hosting a Scholastic Kids News reporter, Andrew Raymundo, at our facility for one of our Turtle Walk programs. The Raymundo family are supporters of LMC and frequent visitors. Andrew has published his article, which is not only available online, but will also be printed in the Scholastic Kids News magazine which reaches over 25 million classrooms across the U.S.!
A special Thank You to Andrew for sharing an interest in our mission.
Calling all teachers! As school swings back into session welcome your students back with a classroom sea turtle adoption! All teachers receive a 30% off discount! This purchase also entitles you to a discounted virtual tour of our Center with our education department. If you are interested please email Autumn Homer at firstname.lastname@example.org through your school account to receive the discount link.
For the month of August all adoptions will also include a Fletch Adventure’s book! Get your kids back in the school spirit with this fun tale of our Mascot Fletch and his journey of keeping our beaches clean!
This month we would like to recognize a volunteer who has been working double time this month, picking up extra shifts and helping us keep up with field trips and general yard coverage.
We are pleased to announce Jill Beck as our Volunteer of the Month.
Since her start in January 2018, Jill has served 284 hours in our Education Department and as an Adoptions volunteer.
During this time, she has been an active and accomplished Field Trip docent, leading both the normal field trips and the Save Our Seas trips.
Jill is knowledgeable and willing to help however she can, whenever she can. She brings a positive attitude to each shift and is a wonderful ambassador for our mission of sea turtle and ocean conservation.
Thank you for all you do, Jill!
Mascot Corner: Slow Down!
Fletch here, the lovable and huggable Loggerhead Marinelife Center mascot. I can’t believe summer vacation is over! The 2019-2020 school year in Palm Beach County started on Monday August 12, 2019. Please, SLOW DOWN and watch out for children going to and from school.
Back to School Means Sharing the Road:
- Obey the speed limit in all school zones.
- When the school zone flashers are blinking, SLOW DOWN! Always stop and yield to children crossing in the crosswalk or intersection.
- Stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
- Don’t block school crosswalks when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. This action forces children to go around you and puts them in the path of moving traffic.
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, bus stops, school parking lots, and in all residential areas.
- Children on bicycles can be unpredictable and can make sudden changes in direction. Be especially careful when children are present in school zones and residential areas.
- When the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop for a school bus.
- When a school bus is stopped to load or unload children, never pass the bus from either direction, if you’re on an undivided road.
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children, stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.
- Starting on October 1, 2019, “Wireless Communications Devices” (Cell Phones) can only be used in the hands free mode when driving in School Zones, School Crossings, or active construction zones.
- Remember, texting while driving is illegal in Florida and extremely dangerous. Eyes on the roadway at all times.
Again, PLEASE SLOW DOWN and watch out for children going to and from school. Children are very unpredictable and tend to ignore hazards and take risks. “Be Alert” at all times. Thank you for caring.
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
School is back in session, which means you are probably on the go a lot! With these eco-friendly straws you can be sure to stay sustainable on the go. Pack them in lunch boxes or keep them in the car for easy access.