Sea turtle volunteer program at full capacity
Sea turtle nesting season on the islands is just around the corner and preparation is underway, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported. One important component of preseason planning is volunteer recruitment and scheduling.
The immense amount of work required to survey all of Sanibel and Captiva from April 15 through October is made possible by the efforts of a group of very dedicated volunteers. Nearly 100 SCCF volunteers contribute to sea turtle monitoring, with many returning to devote their time year after year.
Over the last several years, the SCCF has experienced an unprecedented rise in new volunteer registration. While the increased interest is encouraging for the program and conservation of sea turtles, the influx of new requests also presents a challenge: more passionate people than opportunities to participate.
The SCCF’s survey structure is designed by Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the number of volunteer positions available is defined by its format, explained Coastal Wildlife biologist Jack Brzoza. Currently, the number of names on the wait list, some of whom signed up several years ago, has eclipsed 100 — more than the entire group of active volunteers. Only a few volunteer openings occur each year and the later wait list additions may be several seasons out from participating.
“We regret that we can no longer accept new volunteer requests or add to the wait list at this time,” Brzoza said. “Unfortunately, it’s not possible to involve all of the wonderful members of our community offering to volunteer their time in a way that would provide everyone with a meaningful sea turtle volunteer experience.”