Written by story by Andrea Stetson special to Coastal Life
June 6, 2013
Link to original article: http://www.news-press.com/article/20130607/COASTAL_LIFE/306070007/Sea-turtle-nests-start-pop-up-Bonita-beaches?nclick_check=1
Sea turtle nests start to pop up on Bonita beaches
Rayma C. Page Elementary School kids decorate stakes to mark them
Luis Gomez and Alan Magistrat, kindergarten students at Rayma C. Page Elementary School, decorate sticks that are being used to mark nests on Bonita Beach and Fort Myers Beach. / Andrea Stetson/Special to Coastal Life
Weeks after Collier County and Captiva and Sanibel Island got their first turtle nest, Bonita Springs is finally seeing some action. The first nest was laid May 14 near access No. 3 and for the first time these local nests are being marked with sticks decorated by local elementary schoolchildren. Children in all eight kindergarten classes at Rayma C. Page Elementary School learned about sea turtles and then spent a day decorating the stakes that are used to mark the nests.
“We told them about turtles,” said teacher Nirvi Mehta. “We told them to draw turtles, eggs, sand, and what they see in the water. “We did a whole unit on the life of turtles and the dangers they have and how we can protect them, and then they went home and told their parents.”
The children say they enjoyed drawing turtles, sea creatures, eggs, beaches and nests on the stakes. They also learned from the experience.
“We learned that turtles lay eggs on the beach where they were born,” said kindergarten student Amiah Poole, 6. “We learned the turtle might see a plastic bag and think it is a jellyfish and eat it.”
“The baby sea turtles might get their neck stuck in the six rings (plastic holder that soda comes in),” added Alexis Gillespie, 6. “You can clean up the beach so it is safer for them.”
Eve Haverfield, president and founder of Turtle Time, says it is wonderful when schools take the initiative to educate children about the plight of turtles. The children drew on the stakes a few weeks ago and then had to wait and wait for nests to be laid. While Collier County and Captiva had their first nests in April before the May 1 start of turtle nesting season, Bonita had to wait until mid-May for its first nest.
“I guess they are just lazy,” joked Turtle Time volunteer Lynne Crews, who found the first nest. “I don’t know why it took so long.”
The first nest on Bonita was also a new learning experience for Turtle Time’s newest volunteers. Kathleen and Patrick Fitzsimmons and Karla Lewis joined more than 100 other volunteers this year to patrol the beach in the morning looking for nests to mark.
“I have been wanting to do it since the 1980s,” Lewis said. “I finally have the time now.”
“I have always had a fascination with turtles,” Kathleen Fitzsimmons added. “I collect turtle figurines. We moved here in June 2012 and I heard about this organization and we wanted to do something to help the environment and the turtles.”
• To learn more or to volunteer: turtletime.org
or call Eve Haverfield at 481-5566
• To report dead or injured sea turtles or if you have accidentally hooked a sea turtle that is small enough to rescue, contact: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-FWCC, or call Turtle Time Inc., 481-5566