Mote Marine Laboratory staff thanked Longboat Key Turtle Watch (LBKTW) for their generous donation of $9,670 to Mote’s sea turtle and education programs during a check presentation on Dec. 7 at Mote on City Island, Sarasota.

Mote staff are exceedingly grateful to LBKTW for nine years of annual donations and for their partnership in conservation of endangered and threatened sea turtles. LBKTW members monitor sea turtle nesting on the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key under the Marine Turtle Permit held by Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program (STCRP), and they conduct education and outreach. Mote’s STCRP has monitored sea turtle nesting and coordinated conservation from Longboat Key south through Venice for 37 years.

“LBKTW enjoys doing our part in protecting sea turtles and providing educational opportunities to the public,” said Longboat Key Turtle Watch President Tim Thurman. “The members of this organization are passionate about sea turtles and their environment and will continue to do all they can to support them. The long term relationship with Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program works very well to accomplish these goals.”
This year’s donation included:

  • $2,040 in the name of longtime LBKTW volunteer Freda Perrotta, for Mote’s STCRP to purchase essential supplies such as GPS units, flagging tape and paint for stakes that mark sea turtle nests, locks and chains to secure ATVs used to patrol beaches, and more;
  • $3,200 for STCRP’s efforts to tag sea turtles for identification and tracking;
  • $1,430 for Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital to purchase radiograph (x-ray) equipment;
  • $2,000 to help children from Title-1 schools access Mote Education programs, along with $500 for the Orville Clayton Mote Summer Camp Scholarship and $500 for another Mote Summer Camp Scholarship. The scholarships will help four children attend Mote programs: two from Anna Maria Elementary School and two from the LBKTW Defender Club.

“Mote and the Longboat Key Turtle Watch worked exceedingly hard this year, documenting the third-highest number of sea turtle nests in Mote’s monitoring history and coping with the impacts of a severe red tide bloom that challenged local sea turtles as well as beachgoers,” said Mote Senior Biologist Melissa Bernhard, who leads STCRP’s conservation efforts. “It’s wonderful to close out this busy year with the generous support of our Turtle Watch partners, which will help us continue our effective teamwork no matter what the 2019 nesting season brings.”
Mote Senior Biologist Kristen Mazzarella leads satellite-tagging research to track female sea turtles departing the nesting beach and males released from Mote’s hospital. “While our efforts to monitor nesting beaches are essential, the biggest knowledge gaps in sea turtle research are out in the ocean, where sea turtles make long-distance migrations that can only be monitored using specialized tools such as electronic tags. We sincerely thank Longboat Key Turtle Watch for designating part of their support toward tracking sea turtles with satellite tags, and we hope the public will follow their great example by supporting this work through our new tracking webpage.”

“The funds for radiograph equipment are helping our hospital perform one of its core duties, taking x-rays to diagnose sea turtles so we can treat them as effectively as possible and return them to the wild,” said Mote Medical Care and Rehabilitation Coordinator Lynne Byrd.
“At Mote, we believe conservation begins with education — it’s important that we make an extra effort to reach students who cannot readily access marine science resources and mentorship,” said Brad Tanner, School Programs Manager at Mote. “We thank the Longboat Key Turtle Watch for sharing and contributing to this important effort.”