Local Focus: Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol
In the current Local Focus we highlight the important work done by our Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol. Led by Director and AP resident Michelle Darpel and ably assisted by a dedicated team of 24 volunteers, The Alligator Point Sea Turtle Patrol (APSTP) operates under FWC Marine Turtle Permit 151 (MTP 151). As Michelle explains, their "mission is to monitor, evaluate, protect, and record nesting marine sea turtles and hatchlings. During nesting season, which is May 1 - October 31, you’ll see our patrollers out at dawn each morning walking the entire length of Alligator Point beaches looking for turtle crawls. Once a crawl is found, we then mark it for protection and monitor it until the hatchlings emerge, in approximately 60-65 days. In addition, we also rescue, evaluate, and transport, stranded sea turtles. We provide turtle-related information and education to the public, schools, organizations, news media, and other groups. APSTP authorized personnel are FWC trained in order to be qualified to be sea turtle patrollers on MTP 151. The FWC sea turtle conservation program is one of the best wildlife conservation programs in the world and has contributed greatly to bringing back sea turtles from near extinction. The most endangered sea turtle in the world, the Kemp's Ridley, is one frequently found in Alligator Point waters, although Loggerheads are the dominant nesting turtles here. The turtles we monitor here on Alligator Point truly are OUR sea turtles... once they emerge from the nest, each hatchling crawls across the sand to the sea, imprinting in its tiny brain the exact location of beach as it does. Over the next approximately two weeks it makes it way to the Sargasso Sea, where it will live and grow for the next 25-30 years. When it has reached maturity, the turtle instinctively navigates all the way back to Alligator Point to lay its nest of 100+ eggs and continue this magnificent life cycle. Our nesting mommas were hatchlings here many years ago! An adult sea turtle can live 100+ years and weigh 300+ pounds. We are so fortunate to share our home with these incredible creatures! APSTP greatly appreciates the cooperation and support of our community and others in the mission to protect and save our precious sea turtles.” To see more, including a list of our current APSTP volunteers, click on the "local interest" tab above, select "A.P. Sea Turtle Patrol" from the drop down menu and go to their page on our website. Be sure to click on their facebook link and like their page in order to keep up with the exciting work being done by APSTP. Volunteers are always welcome, please consider joining the APSTP and contact Michelle (859-797-8332) for more information. Please take a moment to thank these hardworking volunteers when you seem them on patrol or around the "Point".