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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Protecting Our Precious Sea Turtles

Aug 31, 2013 10:01PM

Helping sea turtles survive.” That is how The Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) got started. Due to the huge numbers of sea turtles that nest on our area beaches or forage in our lagoon, a group of concerned citizens formed a grass-roots organization in 1984 and later, in 1986, incorporated as a not-for-profit organization.

The group is driven by the need to educate the general public about ways to help protect the sea turtle population that relies on this location for their survival. They also assist the sick and injured sea turtles that arrive on area beaches throughout the year and during nesting season particularly. STPS reaches thousands of people annually through public presentations, exhibits at area events, and by turtle watches during the sea turtle nesting season. The society’s goal is to help maintain the current sea turtle population and to prevent a potentially irreversible decline in that population.

In 2012, the organization’s annual fundraiser, The Turtle Krawl, was the largest 5k race in all of Brevard County. More than 1800 people registered for the race which raised more than $34,000. Despite Brevard County having one of the highest concentrations of sea turtle nesting in the entire world, the closest rehabilitation facility is approximately a 90 minute drive from our beaches. Even with the best efforts of STPS volunteers, this distance results in delayed treatment for sick and injured sea turtles and reduces their chances of survival. In 2010, the STPS Board of Directors unanimously agreed to earmark Turtle Krawl proceeds for a "special project," with the number one dream of eventually having a rehabilitation sea turtle facility here in Brevard County, whether it is a triage center, a full blow sea turtle hospital, or something in between. In 2013, STPS partnered with the Brevard Zoo to make the dream a reality. A brand new sea turtle facility is currently under construction on the zoo's property, with an estimate completion date of Fall 2013.

This year’s run will be held on September 14th at 7:30 a.m. The Turtle Krawl begins and ends on Wave Crest Ave in Nance Park (near the corner of A1A and 5th Avenue (US-192)) in Indialantic. Participants will receive beautiful Turtle Krawl shirts and reusable race packet totes in addition to several other race day amenities. Stunning sea turtle-shaped medals will be awarded to standard Age Group Winners, Masters, Grandmasters, Great-Grandmasters, the Top 10 Competitive Walkers, and even to the person who finishes exactly in the middle of the field - the "Middle of the Nest" award winner. There will also be a Kids Run as part of the Space Coast Runners Youth Series. The run will be on the beach and will have three different distances to choose from: 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, and 1 mile. There is no entry fee for the Kids Run, but registration is required.

One thing that has not changed since the Turtle Krawl began in 2001 is the unique artwork featured on the back of the popular Turtle Krawl race shirts. Each year the artwork is custom created for the race by local artist Michael “Nemo” Nemnich.

The current Members of the Turtle Krawl Committee are: Mark Petrillo, Michael Petrillo, and Roger Pszonowsky. In addition to these three, nearly 100 other STPS and community members volunteer their time to put on this race annually.

Sea Turtle Preservation Society is located at 111 South Miramar Avenue, Indialantic. For more information, to become a member, volunteer, or adopt a turtle call 321-676-1701 or visit SeaTurtleSpaceCoast.org. For Turtle Krawl information visit TurtleKrawl.com. Prints of Nemo’s artwork can be purchased by contacting him through his website at http://nemosprays.wordpress.com.

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