animal rescue, Beach, Devotionals, Endangered Species, Inspirational, Life Lessons, Nature, Navarre Beach, Sea Turtles, Volunteering

5 Ways Gigi Inspires Me

This is the final installment of my three-part series about sea turtles. In MEET GIGI, I told you about a blind loggerhead sea turtle we met at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. TEN FACTS ABOUT LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES provided more information about sea turtles and their plight.

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Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center’s motto: Giving Sea Turtles More Tomorrows

As you can tell, I’m still pumped about our visit to NBSTCC last month.

I’m Always Up for Shopping

And you probably know, there was  no way I was leaving without visiting their gift shop, the Seamore Store. It’s manned by–you guessed it–volunteers. We met two delightful ladies, Cinnamon Holderman and Christy Meyer.

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Don’t you love Christy’s red turtle girls rock shirt. I want one.

 

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I suppose the largest souvenir we could have carted home from NBSTCC was this turtle chair. We decided to pass on it.

But I did try on t-shirts and admired toys, books, photographs & paintings, along with lots of other items crafted by locals. I can’t believe I didn’t buy a T-Shirt. (Well, I would have if they’d had my size in the one I wanted. Next time.)

I did bring home a few items.

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That red sea turtle circle in the middle goes on the end of your flashlight to soften the light’s impact on the sea turtles that might be hatching on the beach.

NBSTCC didn’t happen overnight. In 2011, this group cast a vision for creating a center to educate the many visitors to the island on the plight of sea turtles and provide a place where rescued turtles could be rehabilitated. You can even sign up to volunteer while you’re there. They told us a couple from my hometown of Searcy, Arkansas, was volunteering soon. How cool is that?

When I volunteer at NBSTCC, I want to work in the Seamore Store, maybe with Cinnamon and Christy. I want to wear one of those blue volunteer t-shirts, too. (Yeah, I want two shirts.)

In closing, if you vacation in Florida, I encourage you to also Navarre Beach Marine Park just next to it. You’ll see the buildings just beyond Gigi’s home.

NBMP actually predates NBSTCC  and is a larger success story that began in 2009. It works for and promotes all forms of local sea conservation through programs and onsite educational offerings. Their latest project involves a grant for a mobile unit to go out to schools and community events.

They cast a large vision when they launched this volunteer organization.

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We saw a model of how they go about restoring coral reefs.

At NBMP, you can snorkel or scuba dive along one of the manmade coral reefs or take out a glass-bottom kayak and watch the sea life from the surface. You might even encounter one of those magnificent sea turtles. (The reefs in the Santa Rosa Sound might be better for snorkeling.)

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NBMP’s story is truly worthy of its own series. I plan doing that–right after I kayak out to one of those reefs in the sound. Next trip.

Life is so much richer when we venture out beyond ourselves. I’m amazed when I look at groups and foundations right here in Arkansas that began by someone seeing a need and embracing the vision to meet it.

What’s your passion?

Where’s your next adventure?

I really want to know.

 

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord 

as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14

Beaches, Endangered Species, Fishing, Florida, Navarre Beach, Sea Turtles

MEET GIGI

If we’re Facebook friends, you know that I just got back from our favorite place to unwind, Navarre Beach, Florida. Thanks to Navarre Beach News, the day before we came home, we made a new friend. Her name is GiGi. Today is the first installment of a three-part series of this community’s love affair with sea creatures. I’ve definitely signed on.

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GiGi is an almost 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle who came to live at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center (NBSTCC) from Sea World Orlando in July. Blind, underweight and covered in barnacles, Gigi was pretty pitiful when she arrived at Sea World ten year ago.

Through their expert care, she regained her general health, but because of her blindness, she’d never survive on her own in the wild. Consequently, Gigi’s rescuers had been looking for a permanent home for her for over ten years.

Enter Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

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Navarre Beach is a nesting place for loggerheads. Over the years, I’ve heard and read about how the locals were working to make it a more welcoming environment for these endangered creatures. Volunteers patrol the beach to remove obstacles to their successful nesting, sponsor regular trash pick up events and educational opportunities for visitors.

They’ve conducted campaigns to encourage vacationers to fill in holes on the beach that can entrap turtles. They’ve also been instrumental in the development of ordinances to require beachgoers to remove all personal articles each day and limit artificial light on the beach at night. Both are hazardous to nesting and hatching turtles.

 

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This group lobbied for vacationers and residents to draw their blinds and drapes during nesting season because our lights confuse hatchlings, which normally move toward light reflected on the ocean. Volunteer, Jim Holmes, told us how one year hatchlings got mixed up by the lights of civilization and headed toward the center of the island. They were no match for the cars and trucks rolling along busy Gulf Boulevard.

 

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Jim said his wife, Cathy, who’s the Director of NBSTCC, got him into this job. We thought he looked pretty happy when we were there.

 

Fishermen sometimes hook a sea turtle. From the turtle’s vantage point, that’s a serious situation. If the fisherman just cuts the line, the turtle is doomed to get wrapped up in it and will probably drown. Or it may ingest the hook which presents another set of problems, possibly death.

 

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Folks, please don’t drop your old line on the beach. Take it home to discard it.

 

NBSTCC TO THE RESCUE

NBSTCC also works with the Navarre Pier by providing instructions and a phone number to fishermen who happen to snag a turtle. IF the fisherman will call, a trained volunteer will show up, free the turtle, and release it back into the Gulf or take it somewhere to be treated. Please make that call.

 

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Navarre Pier as seen from our balcony one mile down the beach.

 

By the way, Navarre Pier is the longest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico. If you like to fish, it should be one of the stops on your next vacation. (Bring along your fishing pole. Just remember who you’re gonna call if you tangle with a sea turtle.)

Have you ever vacationed on the Florida Panhandle?

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If not, you definitely need to consider wiggling your toes in the sugar sand and go wadding in the emerald surf.

Seriously!

Hope I see you on Navarre Beach sometime soon.

So God created the great sea creatures and every living thing that moves,

with which the waters swam …

Gen. 1:21

Next time, I’ll tell you TEN THINGS ABOUT LOGGERHEAD TURTLES and introduce you to some of the other people we met and show you some things we encountered at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. (Can you say that five times real fast?)

Many thanks to Navarre Beach News  for the great features on Gigi and NBSTCC. You hooked me, so I made that visit. I’m sure glad.