Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium sea turtle biologists received extra help to protect and research Florida’s sea turtles thanks to Florida drivers and two grants from the Sea Turtle Grants Program.
The Sea Turtle Grants Program, funded through proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate, recently awarded two grants for a total of almost $40,000 to Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program (STCRP). The awards go towards two projects in the 2019 sea turtle nesting season: nighttime tagging of nesting females and daily nest monitoring.
This support, acquired through a competitive grant process, helped STCRP’s nighttime tagging project acquire an ATV, personnel to supervise nighttime turtle tagging, and tagging equipment. STCRP’s morning nesting patrol also acquired a much-needed ATV.
The ATVs are used primarily in the densest nesting areas. The ATVs allow the nighttime tagging team to see as many turtles as possible and the morning patrol to document and stake the nests as quickly and efficiently as possible. For a program that is on track to document around 5,000 nests and tag hundreds of turtles this year, equipment such as ATVs are vital to ensuring accurate and efficient data collection that will help protect Florida’s marine turtles.
The tagging project will also be able to combine 37 years of both nighttime tagging and daily nesting data in a comprehensive database that connects sea turtle biology information on both the population and individual scale. New analyses allowed by this data integration will contribute to the understanding of the biology and ecology of female turtles, specifically, how aging and environmental conditions affect individual sea turtle reproductive success.
Mote’s STCRP monitors 35 miles of beaches for nesting activity in the greater Sarasota area. Sarasota County is home to the densest number of loggerhead nests on the west coast of Florida. Mote has also documented green, Kemp’s ridley, and leatherback nests in its area of monitoring.
Mote’s STCRP sea turtle monitoring and research is conducted under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine Turtle Permits 027, 054, 070, 048, 028, and 155.
About The Sea Turtle Grant Program & Florida Sea Turtle License Plate
Thanks to the efforts of the non-profit Sea Turtle Conservancy and other Florida sea turtle groups, in 1997, the Florida Legislature (Statute 320.08058 (19)) authorized the creation of a Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate to promote the conservation and protection of Florida's sea turtles through providing a permanent funding source for the state's Marine Turtle Protection Program. Learn more about the Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate at helpingseaturtles.org
Funded by a portion of revenues from Florida's Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes funds each year to coastal county governments, educational institutions and nonprofit groups through a competitive application process, to support sea turtle research, conservation and education programs that benefit Florida sea turtles.
By purchasing a Sea Turtle Speciality License Plate for a vehicle for $23 a year, Florida drivers are providing critical financial support for the Sea Turtle Grants Program and the state’s Marine Turtle Protection program.