Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) was fortunate to be funded in whole by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program in order to purchase an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) for beach patrols. This vehicle will allow better access to beaches for surveying and help increase our rescue team response time.
Each year, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes money, funded by Florida’s sea turtle specialty license plate, to coastal county governments, educational and research institutions and nonprofit groups through a competitive application process. The sea turtle license plate is also the primary source of funding for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Turtle Protection Program.
Advantages of All-Terrain Vehicle Usage
The grant money CMA received was used to purchase a new 2017 Honda Rancher TRX420FM1 4X4. The addition of this kind of vehicle will be advantageous for several reasons. The smaller ATV footprint will take up less space, create less ruts in the sand, and reduce interference with beachgoers, compared to larger vehicles. It will further reduce environmental impacts with lower emissions and less gas usage.
The all-terrain vehicle will allow us to access certain beach areas more easily, which will also let us transport rescued animals more quickly when needed. This will be especially helpful during times where we are receiving a large number of animals, such as a cold stun event, or if the injury or condition of the animal is more severe and requires urgent attention.
Beach Escarpment and Lighting Surveys
Operational ATV uses will also include escarpment and lighting surveys. Pinellas County Coastal Management conducts coastal construction projects or renourishment projects that oftentimes require that post-construction monitoring occur to identify escarpments, or vertical walls of sand. These escarpment surveys are performed weekly during the sea turtle nesting season and leveled if they persist, to ensure that these walls of sand do not interfere with the nesting process. Adult females can abort the nesting process if they encounter these walls of sand and are unable to climb over them.
Lighting surveys are performed two times during the nesting season to identify all point sources of artificial light that can be seen from nesting beaches. This information is provided to the code enforcement officers of each barrier island municipality so that they may inform residents about installing sea turtle-friendly lighting during the nesting season.
Help Support the Sea Turtle Grants Program
This vehicle addition was funded in whole by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program. Clearwater Marine Aquarium greatly appreciates the support from the Sea Turtle Grants Program and has previously been awarded funds for anesthesia equipment to aid in sea turtle surgery. The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at www.helpingseaturtles.org.
All sea turtle license plate images and sea turtle license plate hatchling images Copyright © Sea Turtle Conservancy, and may only be used by Sea Turtle Grant Program Award Recipients according to their Contract Agreement. Images may not be used for other purposes without permission from the Sea Turtle Conservancy.