On Friday, Dec. 11 the Longboat Key Turtle Watch donated $8,002 to help advance Mote Marine Laboratory’s education and sea turtle programs.

The funds will be distributed among the Lab’s Hatchling Hospital, Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital, Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program and Education Department.

“We are very excited to show our support for Mote’s programs that inspire not only sea turtle conservation, but to education programs that will have a lasting impression on the next generation,” said Cyndi Seamon, a volunteer with Longboat Key Turtle Watch and Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. “Mote’s summer camps and educational programs teach today’s youth the importance of our marine environment and why we must protect it.”

The donation to Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program (STCRP) is in honor of Freda Perrotta, who is celebrating her 90th birthday this year, and is a longtime member of the nonprofit Longboat Key Turtle Watch.

“I am deeply grateful for this honor,” Perrotta said. “There are so many people out there who dream to inspire conservation of sea turtles, and I am just so touched and thankful to the Longboat Key Turtle Watch and Mote Marine Laboratory for the amazing work they do.”

Perrotta spent 25 years monitoring Longboat Key beaches for turtle nests to help preserve the endangered animal. She served as the program’s treasurer and spent countless hours volunteering in education and public outreach for the benefit of sea turtles.

To honor Perrotta’s strong passion for sea turtle conservation, the Longboat Key Turtle Watch established a Freda Perrotta Grant to Mote’s STRCP. This year, the grant totaled $2,075, which will go toward various items that will help Mote’s STRCP team gear up for next year such as GPSes to mark nest locations, ATV Batteries and ATV tune-ups for ATVs that are used to patrol the beach.

“We are all extremely thankful for Longboat Key Turtle Watch’s continued support,” said Dr. James Powell, STCRP Manager. “Their generosity provides us with the necessary tools to continue to coordinate our local sea turtle conservation efforts in Manatee and Sarasota counties.”

Mote’s Hatchling Hospital received a donation of $1,925, which will go toward hatchling medical supplies, as the hospital receives over 1,200 patients on average per season that need a range of care. Hatchlings that need long-term care may require treatments that include X-rays, antibiotics, steroids, fluid injections or wound care.

“This donation means so much to us, because this year, the hospital had the highest number of patients admitted to the critical care ward needing long-term care than any year before,” said Holly West Sea Turtle Care Coordinator at Mote. “We are in need of medical supplies and the Longboat Turtle Watch’s support will help us rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of hatchlings next year, helping us achieve the highest level of care for our animals.”

Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital (STRH) received a donation of $1,102 which will go toward blood chemistry analysis for injured and diseased sea turtles admitted to the hospital.

“The care and recovery of impaired sea turtles can cost a great deal, and a non-profit organization such as Mote can struggle with expenses associated with
providing optimal care of patients and the maintenance of heavily used facilities,” said Lynne Byrd, Mote’s Rehabilitation and Medical Care Coordinator. “This years funds will be used towards purchasing supplies to run blood chemistry’s for all the sea turtles that come through the hospital.”

In the new year, Mote’s Education Department is looking to expand its’ educational programs for today’s youth who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn about and stay connected with STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). These programs allow students to visit Mote, learn about a particular STEM subject, and take a tour of the Lab.

A donation of $1,900 was presented to Mote’s Education Department to be used to reach underserved students providing transportation and admission fees for onsite field trips to Mote.

Through these programs, Mote staff aim to share the Lab’s world-class marine science to increase science and ocean literacy in the community and to inspire global marine and environmental stewardship.

Another $1,000 was given to the education department to send four students to Mote’s summer camp. Two of those students will receive an Orville Clayton Scholarship to honor Clayton, who co-founded Longboat Key Turtle Watch in 1969 and passed away at age 99 on Sept. 4, 2014.

“We believe it is of the utmost importance that the youth of today appreciate the importance of the world’s oceans so they can protect these natural resources for future generations,” said Brad Tanner. “And these funds will help us reach and hopefully inspire these children to become better stewards of the environment.”

Longboat Key Turtle Watch members monitor sea turtle nesting activity along the northern portion of Longboat Key, under a Marine Turtle Permit held by Mote Marine Laboratory, and they conduct education and outreach. Mote monitors the remaining stretch of nesting beaches from southern Longboat Key through Venice throughout sea turtle nesting season, May 1-Oct. 31.

The Longboat Key Turtle Watch has provided scholarship funds to Mote for several years, helping to support the Lab’s world-class marine science education programs for pre-K through high-school students.