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San-Cap Audubon to present lecture on ‘Sea Turtles in the Summer of the Oil Spill’

By Staff | Dec 27, 2010

The impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on sea turtle hatchlings will be discussed at the first Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Lecture Series event of 2011, to be held on Jan. 6.

The dread of the spreading disastrous Gulf oil spill transformed the normal leisurely Sanibel summer into one of survival. Days and nights were filled with increasing fervor over how best to manage SCCF’s Sea Turtle Program. Prior Wildlife Federation protocols were replaced by the implementation of new protocols designed to best protect the sea turtles from the new threat.

Join the Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society on Thursday, Jan. 6 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way, for the first presentation of the new year entitled “Sea Turtles in the Summer of the Oil Spill,” presented by biologist Amanda Bryant, Director of the Sea Turtle Research and Monitoring Program for SCCF.

Sea turtles are among the world’s oldest creatures ranging in size from 300 pounds for loggerheads to 800 to 1,800 lbs. for the leatherbacks. Loggerheads are the most common in Sanibel, although the green sea turtle also nests occasionally on our beaches. Nesting season runs from May to October, and — with the help of dedicated volunteers who walk the beaches daily at dawn — nests are constantly monitored.

“This past year was different… a nightmare… our most challenging year yet, but we made it,” said Bryant. “Days of monitoring, which usually required 10 minutes per nest, required one hour per nest. Much of the nightmare was the fear of the repercussions of the oil spill on the nesting turtle population on Sanibel and Captiva and the need to find and put the best possible protections in place.”

Bryant grew up in a small town in rural Indiana. She attended Philadelphia University where she received a B.S. in Environmental and Conservation Biology. After graduating, she spent a several years working on wildlife research projects throughout the United States. Her interests and work have focused mainly on threatened, endangered and at-risk wildlife populations.

A mother sea turtle crawls towards the water after laying her eggs in the sand.

After interning at SCCF for the Snowy Plover Project, Bryant was offered her present permanent position as biologist in SCCF’s Department of Wildlife Management.

This is the first of eight lectures to be held in 2011. As always, all are welcome to attend. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and parking is available at the Sanibel Community House as well as across Periwinkle Way in the Schoolhouse Theater parking area. A $5 donation is appreciated, with proceeds being used to promote conservation on Sanibel and in Florida.

For additional information about the San-Cap Audubon Lecture Series, call Elaine Jacobson at 395-1878.

Amanda Bryant, biologist for the SCCF Department of Wildlife Management.