Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Endangered Species' Gains and Losses | Helping Sea Turtles but Failing the Florida Panther

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Endangered Species' Gains and Losses | Helping Sea Turtles but Failing the Florida Panther

Article excerpt

OUR VIEW

Efforts to protect

endangered species

in Southwest Florida

recorded some impressive

gains recently, and also some

disheartening losses.

The gains were made in

this year's record-breaking

sea-turtle nesting season, and

are a tribute to the work of

Mote Marine Laboratory, local

governments and our coastal

communities.

The losses have come in a

record of another sort: the

steadily increasing number

of Florida panthers killed by

motorists. Those deaths show

the need for greater awareness

of, and stronger protections

for, the state's fragile panther

population.

The success of the efforts

on behalf of sea turtles offers

encouragement.

As reported this week by the

Herald-Tribune's Elizabeth

Djinis, this was another record-breaking

year for turtle nests

from Longboat Key to Venice,

the area monitored by Mote's

Sea Patrol from May through

October.

A total of 4,588 turtle nests

were found on the area's

beaches, nearly doubling last

year's record. Most of the

nests were found on Casey

Key (2,104) and Longboat Key

(1,184).

Since each nest contains

about 100 eggs, that means that

close to a half-million hatch-lings

might have found their

way to the ocean this year.

Much of the credit for the

nesting-season success goes to

Mote, which began its sea-turtle

program in the 1980s. Since

then it has monitored and protected

nests on Sarasota and

Manatee county beaches, along

with educating the public.

As most beachfront residents

now know, the hatchlings find

the water by heading toward

the brightest horizon, which on

natural beaches is the ocean.

But developed beaches and

artificial light from waterfront

properties can draw hatch-lings

toward roads, drains,

swimming pools and other

dangerous areas. Beach furniture

and holes in the sand can

also impede the hatchlings.

When hatchlings head to

artificial lights or their path to

the sea is impeded, they can

be snatched by predators such

as raccoons or even struck by

cars. …

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