Since Hurricane Irma cut Shell Key in half last year, turtle patrol has been more challenging. The south half of the island is no longer accessible via the land bridge from Tierra Verde and we've always needed to get to Outback Key We weren't quite sure how we were going to make it work, but we were extremely fortunate to get some much needed help.
In March, Sea Turtle Trackers received a grant from the Florida Sea Turtle Grants Program, which is funded by the sales of the sea turtle specialty license plate.
Sea Turtle Trackers received the grant to help purchase a boat to support nesting patrol on Shell Key and Outback Key, as well as to respond to stranding calls and to transport volunteers for beach cleanups.
With our new (to us) boat, Sea Turtle Trackers was able to identify and protect 94 nests on Shell Key and 3 on Outback Key, with almost 6400 hatchlings making it safely to the Gulf.
Sea Turtle Trackers was chosen for the award through a competitive application process that is open to coastal county governments, educational institutions and Florida-based nonprofit groups striving to improve the livelihood of sea turtles and conserve Florida habitats.
Launched in 1996, the "Helping Sea Turtles Survive" specialty license plate raises money for two important programs that benefit Florida sea turtles—the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission's Marine Turtle Protection Program and the Sea Turtle Grants Program, which distributes money back to the local level for turtle conservation projects. The sea turtle plate is the number two overall selling specialty tag in Florida, and the number one environmental specialty plate. By purchasing the sea turtle specialty license plate, Floridians are voluntarily funding important programs to save endangered sea turtles and their habitats.
To learn more about the Sea Turtle Grants Program and the “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate, please visit www.helpingseaturtles.org
Sea Turtle License Plate Grant