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Teen makes unusual discovery, Explorers help identify it

By Staff | Dec 21, 2010

At the Tarpon Bay Explorers Gift Shop, Davey McEwen shows off the turtle bone he found on the beach with his mom, Suzette, his little sister, McKyra, and his little brother, Iain.

Walking on the beach by the Sanibel Causeway boat ramp last week, 13-year old Davey McEwen found something odd in the sand.

“I thought it was a dolphin jaw,” the youngster said.

Davey’s mom, Suzette, decided they needed some professional help identifying the strange bone, so they brought it to the biologists at Tarpon Bay Explorers (TBE). After doing a little research, TBE’s Charlie Frese and naturalist Mari Hanley identified the bone as a mandible (lower jaw) from a Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

Unfortunately, the McEwens will not be able to take their fabulous find back home to Kennesaw, Ga., as it had to be surrendered to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. TBE co-owner Wendy Schnapp contacted Lead Refuge Ranger Toni Westland at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, who explained that it would be illegal for the McEwen family to keep the bone – or any other bone or feather – due to various laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The “Ding” Darling Refuge and Tarpon Bay Explorers obtain permits to use items like feathers, bones, and turtle shells to educate people about the importance of protecting these species.

In the end, Davey McEwen was happy for the chance to learn and do the right thing. This is a shining example of how kids and families can help these precious protected animals and plants.

Tarpon Bay Explorers are located at 900 Tarpon Bay Road and provide daily educational tours of the “Ding” Darling Refuge. Call 472-8900 or visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com or www.facebook.com/TarponBayExplorers.