South Florida National Parks Trust

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2006
Contact: Don Finefrock,
Executive Director
305.665.4769
Protecting Sea Turtles at Biscayne National Park

Endangered sea turtles return to Biscayne National Park every summer to nest on the park’s barrier islands, but those nests rarely produce hatchlings. Raccoons have destroyed more than 90 percent of the sea turtle nests found within the park in recent years.

Park rangers at Biscayne National Park are hoping to turn that statistic around this summer with help from three student interns and the South Florida National Parks Trust.

The students are searching for turtle nests within the park and promoting sea turtle conservation to the public. Endangered hawksbill and threatened loggerhead sea turtles both nest in Biscayne National Park. The most common nesting sites are Elliott Key, Sands Key and Boca Chita Key.

The students monitor park beaches for signs of nesting activity. If the nests can be found before predators arrive, the park protects the eggs by placing a wire mesh over the clutch. The mesh is small enough to stop raccoons but large enough to allow hatchlings to emerge from the nest.

The students are developing an outreach campaign as well to educate the public about sea turtles in Biscayne National Park, boater practices that can help protect sea turtles and the impact of marine debris on wildlife in South Florida.

The student interns were hired with grant funding from the South Florida National Parks Trust and the state of Florida’s sea turtle grants program. The National Park Service is providing matching money to support the turtle protection program.

The state of Florida’s sea turtle grants program is funded with proceeds from the sale of the sea turtle license plates. More information is available at www.helpingseaturtles.org

The South Florida National Parks Trust was established in 2002 by the National Park Foundation to improve the quality of life in South Florida by supporting the region’s national parks.