Marco Island beach committee funds new initiatives, follows nesting sea turtles and shorebirds

Turtle monitor Mary Nelson marks out a sea turtle nest at 7:10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 14, in front of Les Falls condominium. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Turtle monitor Mary Nelson marks out a sea turtle nest at 7:10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 14, in front of Les Falls condominium. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Members of Marco Island’s Beach Advisory Committee listen to Nancy Richie’s report during Wednesday’s meeting. Seated from left are Ralph Barnhart, Ruth McCann, George Schmidt, Patti Miller, Chairwoman Debbie Roddy, Tony Ferrara and Diane Hoover. Richie is the city’s environmental specialist. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Members of Marco Island’s Beach Advisory Committee listen to Nancy Richie’s report during Wednesday’s meeting. Seated from left are Ralph Barnhart, Ruth McCann, George Schmidt, Patti Miller, Chairwoman Debbie Roddy, Tony Ferrara and Diane Hoover. Richie is the city’s environmental specialist. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Chairwoman Debby Roddy models an embroidered golf shirt for Marco Island’s Beach Advisory Committee Wednesday. Members of the committee asked for the shirt prototype to see if they wanted to individually purchase one. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Chairwoman Debby Roddy models an embroidered golf shirt for Marco Island’s Beach Advisory Committee Wednesday. Members of the committee asked for the shirt prototype to see if they wanted to individually purchase one. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Regular indentations in the sand from water’s edge are made by the flippers of sea turtles as they crawl to a nesting site. These marks were made by the turtle that created Marco Island’s sixth nest on Tuesday, May 14. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Regular indentations in the sand from water’s edge are made by the flippers of sea turtles as they crawl to a nesting site. These marks were made by the turtle that created Marco Island’s sixth nest on Tuesday, May 14. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Debbie Roddy told members of her committee “if you don’t ask, you won’t get.”

On Wednesday, the Marco Island Beach Advisory Committee learned Roddy asked City Council to fund the group’s 2014 initiatives.

“It looks like the $4,400 will be in the budget for BAC goals,” she said. “We won’t get a line item, but it will be in there under public works.” Marco Island’s City Council is currently working on its budget for fiscal year 2014. The budget year begins on Oct. 1, 2013.

Roddy made her presentation to council on May 6 asking for funds after describing the volunteer hours committee members and beach stewards have given to the city. Her list included beach trash collecting, ordinance and renourishment monitoring, educating beachfront owners about lighting regulations, and providing beach and area information to visitors through the beach steward program.

The money will be used to create and supply signs, brochures and flyers at beach entrances and to hotels and beachfront condominiums. The literature will educate beachgoers about prohibitions on live shelling and disturbing resting and nesting shorebirds.

A beach brochure will alert visitors about other “no-nos” such as no dogs or bicycles on the beach, no glass containers, no fires or camping and no disturbing wildlife including adult sea turtles, turtle nests and hatchling turtles.

Other notifications will include asking beachgoers to take out what they brought in, including trash, and removing all sandcastles and filling in holes created by family members.

“I have a picture of hatchling sea turtles that crawled into a hole and couldn’t get out,” Roddy told the committee.

A new initiative for the committee is a youth outreach to Mackle Park’s summer camp and educational presentations to clubs and organizations. Committee member Diane Hoover will prepare educational materials for the committee to be approved by council and the city manager.

In other business, Nancy Richie, environmental specialist announced that six turtle nests had been marked out on the beach: Four on Sand Dollar Island, one in front of Sandcastle I condominium and one in front of Les Falls condominium where the sand was renourished this year.

One false crawl was reported where a turtle started up the beach and then returned to the water. A light was left on above a condominium balcony at the site. That may have caused the female sea turtle to leave the area before depositing eggs. Mary Nelson, responsible for turtle monitoring, reported the light and the condominium was cited for the violation.

Richie reported tracking nests over the past five years from 2008-2012. Nest numbers in 2008 were 78, 2009 - 133, 2010 - 136, 2011 - 189 and 2012 - 127. She cautioned that the numbers represented nests created and not nests hatched. High tides, weather variables and nest disturbances reduce the number of successful nests in a year.

Shorebird nesting is underway, Richie reported, with Wilson’s plovers already hatching and least terns now laying eggs. Skimmers have been actively mating, she reported, and will be nesting soon.

The next beach cleanup is scheduled for 8 a.m., Sunday, May 19, and will be sponsored by Publix Supermarkets. Drinking water, bags and gloves will be supplied for volunteers by the sponsor.

A beachfront property workshop was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26, in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive. The workshop was organized to educate and answer questions from beachfront property managers, associations, owners, vendors and the beach advisory committee. The public may attend.

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