Press Release: FWC Guts Florida’s Largest Sea Turtle Rescue Organization

For Immediate Release, May 13, 2021

Contact: Richard WhiteCloud
Phone: (954) 770-2344 / (954) 404-0025
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FWC Guts Florida’s Largest Sea Turtle Rescue Organization

Turtles Will Die as a Result!

On April 28, 2021, authorities from FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) notified S.T.O.P. (Sea Turtle Oversight Protection) that they would not be renewing 3 of 5 rescue permits that it had historically issued for the purpose of conducting nighttime hatchling rescue operations.  This decision reduces staffing by 60%.
Without prior notice and just as the 2021 sea turtle nesting season commences, FWC has effectively gutted S.T.O.P. by reducing the number of permits to just 2, thereby reducing patrollers from 121 to 48. Additionally, FWC wants to phase out ALL night time patrols over the next several years.  This will result in a catastrophic loss of the endangered species. 

S.T.O.P. has been the largest permit holder in the state, operating under FWC guidelines since 2007 and rescuing nearly 250,000 hatchlings to date.  In 2019, S.T.O.P. 's 121 trained volunteers spent thousands of hours patrolling approximately 18 miles of beach from dusk till dawn, rescuing 29,650 hatchlings from certain death due to disorientation from artificial light pollution.  While there have historically been 121 volunteers on the permit, logistically, on average there are only around 20 volunteers on the beach each night- spread out over 18 miles of coastline. 

Even more egregious, FWC has taken this action without announcing alternative measures to ensure the survival of these endangered species.  While lighting ordinances have been adopted by all coastal municipalities in the County, compliance is inconsistent and enforcement is almost non-existent.  Despite S.T.O.P. 's 14 years of documenting offending hotels, condos, houses, restaurants, and shops, FWC has failed to pressure municipalities to enforce existing lighting codes.  Without sufficient S.T.O.P. staff monitoring the thousands of nests at night, tens of thousands of hatchlings will follow the artificial lights and crawl into roadways, storm drains and parking lots- dying, just minutes after being born.  Hatchlings that don’t have road access will crawl aimlessly on the beach until they dehydrate and die.  

FWC has further impacted S.T.O.P. 's ability to continue their mission by reducing the duration of the educational permits used to conduct “Turtle Treks of Terramar” educational programs from 4 months to 2 months.  This leaves fewer opportunities to educate and inspire the general public to conserve these endangered animals.  Additionally, the Treks have been a source of funding the rescue operations; a further blow to the organization.

For detailed information and documentation recorded by S.T.O.P. rescue volunteers, visit http://www.seaturtleop.com/index.php/about/statistics

Take action by signing our petition: https://www.change.org/SaveBabySeaTurtles

About Sea Turtle Oversight Protection (S.T.O.P.)
S.T.O.P. is a local, grass-roots 501(c)3 nonprofit sea turtle conservation organization and the first hatchling rescue in Broward County.  Founded in 2007 by Richard, Siouxzen and Teakahla WhiteCloud to reduce hatchling mortality due to artificial light pollution.  Our mission is to protect and rescue sea turtles and preserve their critical habitats, while remaining free of political influence for the benefit of conservation. 

Trained volunteers work tirelessly to rescue, recover and release hatchlings that could not find the ocean due to artificial lighting.  Our efforts have reduced the hatchling mortality rate by almost 50% in Broward County.  To date, we have saved nearly 250,000 hatchlings that were disoriented to artificial lights and would have died without our presence.  We aim to provide a solution to a complex problem:  to document disorientation events to the local and state officials and to create awareness through education, in an effort to balance the scales and give the hatchlings a chance to begin their life.  To learn more about what we do and how you can help, please visit www.seaturtleop.com

Florida plans to kick sea turtle rescuers off the beach, calling them a threat to environment

David Fleshler, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·5 min read
 

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Florida wildlife commission has identified a new menace to the marine environment: volunteers who protect sea turtle nests.

For more than a decade, unpaid guardians have watched over sea turtle nests in Broward County, rescuing thousands of hatchlings led astray by artificial lights.

Now the state wants to cut the number of volunteers as a step toward ejecting them completely from the beach. The state wildlife commission told three sea turtle rescue groups that their nighttime vigils are unnecessary and harmful, saying in a letter “the increased human presence on the beach at night during nesting and hatching season in effect endangers the health and safety of marine life.”

Click Here to Continue Reading

Sign Our Petition

FWC Mandates Death Sentence for Baby Sea Turtles in Broward County, FL

In the first few minutes of an endangered baby sea turtle's life, it faces many perils.  Here, a majority of sea turtle babies disorient due to artificial light pollution.  Upon hatching, they are instinctively drawn away from the ocean, their natural home. Confusing artificial light for the moon and stars, they end up in our streets, our sewers, and our parking lots, or they dehydrate on the beach and die.  Our hearts are broken, because now we will have to risk legal action to save their lives. Under no circumstances should they die due to the inappropriate actions of the FWC, the agency entrusted with protecting them under the Endangered Species Act (ESA 1973).

With blatant disregard for these innocent babies' lives and the future survival of the species, FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) has, without prior notice, just as the 2021 sea turtle nesting season commences, effectively gutted S.T.O.P. by reducing the number of permits to just 2, thereby reducing volunteer rescue patrols from 121 to 48.  They also plan on completely eliminating nighttime patrols over the next few years.  Isn't it FWC's responsibility to protect, not abuse the rights of these endangered species?  They know these baby turtles will die.  Please sign our petition and contact  FWC.  Click here to tell them to reinstate all 5 of our rescue permits to full capacity.

S.T.O.P., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, has been the largest permit holder in the state, operating under FWC guidelines since 2007 and rescuing and releasing over 260,000 hatchlings to date.  In 2019, S.T.O.P.’s 121 trained volunteers spent thousands of hours patrolling Broward County’s approximately 24 miles of beaches from dusk till dawn, rescuing 23,367 hatchlings from certain death.  Even more egregious, FWC has taken this action without announcing alternative measures to ensure the survival of these endangered species.  While lighting ordinances have been adopted by all coastal municipalities in the County, compliance is inconsistent and enforcement is almost non-existent.  Despite S.T.O.P.‘s 14 years of documenting offending hotels, condos, houses, restaurants, and shops, FWC has failed to pressure municipalities to enforce existing lighting codes.  

Without sufficient S.T.O.P. staff monitoring the thousands of nests at night, each season tens of thousands of hatchlings will disorient and perish, diminishing the future survival of the endangered species.

FWC has further impacted S.T.O.P.’s ability to continue their mission by reducing the duration of the educational permits used to conduct “Turtle Treks of Terramar” from 4 to 2 months.  This leaves fewer opportunities to educate and inspire the general public to conserve these endangered animals.  Additionally, the Treks have been a source of funding the rescue operations; a further blow to the organization.

Please watch our videos on YouTube!  Click here

 

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Tortuga Music Festival

ACM "FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR" NOMINEE ROCK THE OCEAN’S TORTUGA MUSIC FESTIVAL REVEALS 2020 CONSERVATION VILLAGE PARTNERS AND MORE
 
Headliners Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw Along With Kelsea Ballerini, HARDY, Jon Pardi, Pitbull, Vanilla Ice And More Set To Perform, While Helping To Raise Awareness For Ocean Conservation Efforts In Ft. Lauderdale, FL April 17-19

Over Half A Million Dollars Was Raised Last Year For Rock The Ocean’s Foundation
 
Nashville, TN – March 4, 2020 – ACM "Festival Of The Year" nominee Rock The Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival, in partnership with Live Nation, revealed the roster of organizations that will be represented onsite at this year’s CONSERVATION VILLAGE today. Aiming to educate fans on the issues facing the world’s oceans, CONSERVATION VILLAGE is located at the center of the weekend’s festivities to show attendees firsthand how a portion of the proceeds from the event are making a difference on research and conservation efforts. Offering an array of interactive exhibits, CONSERVATION VILLAGE allows fans to engage with the latest scientific learning and technology. 

Each year, the festival strives to build upon CONSERVATION VILLAGE’s five core issues (shark conservation, turtle conservation, marine pollution, overfishing and coral reef degradation) onsite by providing compostable service-ware, enforcing no plastic straws or sales of plastic water bottles, donating all leftover food and providing food that is responsibly caught and farmed. To date, the festival has raised over $2 million, with funds going to the Rock The Ocean’s Foundation to continue protecting the world’s oceans. Throughout the weekend, fans can interact with over 26 organizations that have been invited to share their expertise and efforts onsite. To find out more about each organization this year, visit: https://www.tortugamusicfestival.com/cv-partners

Partnering with Nova Southeastern University (NSU) and the Conservation, Movement and Ecosystem Dynamics Lab at NSU, Rock The Ocean also announced its second annual Sea Turtle Derby, an interactive sea turtle race, kicking off today. Festival attendees can select a turtle to root for in the #RaceToTortuga at TortugaMusicFestival.com/seaturtlederby. Here, they can cheer on a turtle to travel the furthest distance, as each is equipped with special satellite tracking tags that allows scientific data to be collected and to track each turtle’s movements. To help bring awareness, Miranda Lambert, Jon Pardi, Cole Swindell, Billy Currington, Gabby Barrett, and Niko Moon will have turtles named after them in this year’s race, with the winner declared on Wednesday, April 8. Every fan who enters the race will be eligible to win two, three-day general admission passes. Anyone can help support the interactive derby by making a donation towards sea turtle research and conservation.

The "one-of-a-kind festival experience" (iHeartRadio) was just named as a nominee for ACM "Festival Of The Year." The nomination follows seven years of "fans from all over the world traveling to enjoy the sun-soaked festivities" (MusicRow). Praised by Coastal Living as always "packing a serious punch of superstar performers every year,” fans will be able to take in the sun and sand as they enjoy their favorite music following the announcement that headliners Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, and Tim McGraw will perform alongside Jimmie Allen, Kelsea Ballerini, Barenaked Ladies, Gabby Barrett, Lee Brice, Blanco Brown, Billy Currington, Jordan Davis, Gone West ft. Colbie Caillat, Riley Green, Caylee Hammack, HARDY, Hirie, Chris Lane, Jon Pardi, Jon Langston, LOCASH, Pitbull, Runaway June, Cole Swindell, Toots and the Maytals, Vanilla Ice and Morgan Wallen at the three-day weekend (April 17-19) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Passes are available now at: TortugaMusicFestival.comFans can read more information on Rock The Ocean’s CONSERVATION VILLAGE’s five core issues at https://www.tortugamusicfestival.com/rocktheocean/.

For more information and to join the conversation, visit: TortugaMusicFestival.com, Tweet: @FestivalTortuga #TortugaFest, Instagram: @TortugaMusicFestival #TortugaFest. Snapchat: @TortugaFest, Facebook: Facebook.com/TortugaMusicFestival.

About Live Nation Entertainment: 
Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV) is the world’s leading live entertainment company comprised of global market leaders: Live Nation Concerts, Ticketmaster and Live Nation Sponsorship. For additional information, visit www.livenationentertainment.com.
 
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Contact:
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THE GREENROOM
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Lawsuit Launched to Protect Green Sea Turtle Habitat Threatened by Sea-level Rise, Plastic Pollution, Warming

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Green Sea Turtle Habitat Threatened by Sea-level Rise, Plastic Pollution, Warming
 
 

 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2019

Contact:
Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Todd Steiner, (415) 488-7652, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Richard Whitecloud, (954) 770-2344, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Green Sea Turtle Habitat Threatened by Sea-level Rise, Plastic Pollution, Warming

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Center for Biological Diversity, Sea Turtle Oversight Protection and Turtle Island Restoration Network today filed a notice of intent to sue the federal government for failing to protect green sea turtle habitat, which faces threats from sea-level rise, plastic pollution and warming.

In response to green sea turtle population recovery, the National Marine Fisheries Service and Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 found that growing climate change and sea-level-rise threats mean the turtles remain threatened and still need Endangered Species Act protections. Despite those threats — particularly to low-lying nesting beaches — the agencies failed to protect the turtle’s critical habitat under the Act.

“The recovery of most green sea turtle populations is a beacon of hope in our changing oceans, but we’ve got to protect the places they live,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Protecting sea turtle habitat will keep them crossing oceans and loyally coming ashore to dig nests on our beaches.”

“The Trump administration’s moral and legal attacks on our country’s greatest achievements extend all the way to the gentle and defenseless sea turtles that are guaranteed protection under the Endangered Species Act,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “It is unconscionable.”

A 2019 peer-reviewed study by Center scientists found most marine species listed under the Endangered Species Act are recovering. Listed species with critical habitat protections and those listed for more than 20 years are most likely to be rebounding.

“Coastal nesting beaches are losing suitable nesting habitat due to sea level rise, as well as increased temperatures, which further jeopardizes the survival of green sea turtle,” said Richard Whitecloud, founding director of STOP. “It is the government’s responsibility to protect this essential habitat to ensure these marine turtles survive.”

Federal experts have found that green sea turtles should be considered 11 distinct populations, or “distinct population segments.” Although some sea turtle populations are improving significantly due to the protections of the Endangered Species Act, like those in Florida, several populations continue to struggle. The Mediterranean, Central South Pacific and Central West Pacific populations remain in danger of extinction and remain listed as “endangered.”

The Endangered Species Act prohibits federal agencies from authorizing activities that will destroy or harm a listed species’ critical habitat. Animals with federally protected critical habitat are more than twice as likely to be recovering as species without it.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Turtle Island Restoration Network is a global nonprofit whose mission is to inspire and mobilize people around the world to protect marine biodiversity and the oceans that sustain all life on Earth.

Sea Turtle Oversight Protection is a non-profit sea turtle conservation organization made up of local volunteers who conduct nighttime nest surveys and monitoring to rescue and release disoriented sea turtle hatchlings in Broward County, Florida.

Resources:

Notice of Intent to Sue – Green Sea Turtle – Failure to Designate Critical Habitat

Final Rule To List Eleven Distinct Population Segments of the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) as Endangered or Threatened and Revision of Current Listings Under the Endangered Species Act

Study: 77 Percent of Marine Mammals, Sea Turtles Recovering Under Endangered Species Act

The Effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act: A Quantitative Analysis

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