On Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, members of the Longboat Key Turtle Watch (LBKTW) donated $8,405 to help advance Mote Marine Laboratory’s education and sea turtle programs, and presented the Town of Longboat Key with a donation as well.

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

“The volunteer members of Longboat Key Turtle Watch are proud to be able to provide continued financial support to Mote Marine Laboratory and now the town of Longboat Key to help further the group’s mission of education and protection of nesting sea turtle habitat,” said Tim Thurman, LBKTW President. “LBKTW members patrol the beaches, conduct educational activities and through our sea turtle defenders program engage young people as well.”

The donation to Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program is in honor of Freda Perrotta, who is a longtime member of the nonprofit Longboat Key Turtle Watch. This $2,740 donation will go toward numerous beach-monitoring supplies following a record-breaking sea turtle nesting season.

“This year was an incredible, record-breaking year for local sea turtle nests,” said Kristen Mazzarella, Mote senior biologist. “We are immensely grateful for Longboat Key Turtle Watch’s support, which will help us gear up for another successful season, especially following such an eventful year.”

The Sea Turtle Hatchling Hospital received $2,000 for hatchling care and 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.

“Only one out of 1,000 hatchlings will reach maturity, and our hatchling hospital helps to return as many of these endangered sea turtle hatchlings back into the ocean as possible,” said Holly West, Sea Turtle Care & Research Coordinator at Mote. “With a record breaking number of nests this year we also had an increased number of hatchlings needing care. This season we had over 3,000 hatchlings pass through our doors, so this donation from Longboat Key Turtle Watch came at the perfect time and we are extremely grateful.”

The Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital for sub-adult and adult turtles also received $1,165 for a new doppler ultrasonic blood flow monitor, a noninvasive tool that can be used to estimate blood flow.

“All of the various turtle programs at Mote greatly appreciate the continued support of the Longboat Key Turtle Watch,” said Dr. Adrienne Atkins, Mote Staff Veterinarian. “These funds are going toward education and conservation efforts including rescuing and rehabilitating hatchling and adult turtles allowing us to provide our patients with the best care possible.”

Mote’s Education Department received a donation of $1,500 to provide transportation and field trip costs for under-served students to visit Mote Aquarium and a $1,000 donation for the Orville Clayton Mote Summer Camp Scholarship, which allows four students to attend Mote summer camp. This scholarship honors Clayton, who co-founded Longboat Key Turtle Watch in 1969 and passed away at age 99 on Sept. 4, 2014.

“We are grateful to receive this donation, which will allow us to reach children who may not otherwise have the chance to experience an informal science education center like Mote Aquarium and learn the importance of our marine environment,” said Brad Tanner, Senior School Programs Coordinator at Mote.

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.