Volunteer Nancy Friauf, left, holds up Bob and Carla, a pair of Russian tortoises, to show to River Sizemore, in the arms of her aunt Jaycie Johnson, while her mom Haley Sizemore, all from Sopchoppy, looks on at left. [ David Adlerstein | The Star ]
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Perfect weather for a turtle festival

Sunday’s eighth annual Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Festival at George Core Park in Port St. Joe was a perfect day for turtles.

For humans, it had its pluses and minuses.

A sunny morning began the day, and the turnout was strong as locals and visitors took in over 70 arts and crafts vendor booths, 12 education groups, food trucks and the music of Key West Drew.

But about mid-afternoon, the rain started coming down, delighting the turtles but curtailing some of the human activity. A few vendors packed up, but the sun came back out and it turned out to be another successful event

Jessica Swindall, director of the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center, said the event succeeded, during this busy week of visitors to the area, in educating people how sensitive some of the coastal environments are and what they can do to help protect the wildlife living here.

“If you see a turtle on the beach, turn off your lights. Don’t shine bright lights on them,” she said. “Keep it dark and give them their space.”

The reason for this, and for keeping low, shielded lighting around beachfront properties is that lighting disorients turtles and their hatchlings, which once they emerge from their eggs need to get to the moonlight water fast and avoid the natural predators that lurk in the air, land and sea.DarkSky International

For her work as a turtle volunteer, Marianne Warhol, from Port St. Joe, was presented with the Charles Gaddy Sea Turtle Steward Award, named in honor of a longtime volunteer who was instrumental in the ongoing work to protect nesting sea turtles. His widow, Janice Gaddy, was on hand to present Warhol the award.

Among the educational groups that were on hand for the festival were Audubon Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, DarkSky International, Friends of St. Vincent Island, Friends of St. Joseph Bay Preserve, William J. “Billy Joe” Rish Recreation Area U.S. Geological Survey, St. Andrew and St. Joseph Bays estuary program, Gulf County TDC, Gulf World Marine Park, T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. Health Gulf and the Gulf County libraries.

Nesting numbers so far

Thus far in the sea turtle nesting season, which runs through the end of October, these are the latest numbers for nests of Gulf and Franklin County beaches:
Franklin County – St. George Island/Alligator Point: 177 loggerheads, 6 leatherback, 1 green
St. James Peninsula South: 112 loggerheads
St. James Peninsula: 94 loggerheads, 1 green
Cape San Blas – Eglin AFB: 27 loggerheads, 1 Kemp’s ridley
Indian Pass: 22 loggerheads, 1 leatherback
Mexico Beach-Windmark-St. Joe Beach: 20 loggerheads, 1 leatherback

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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