Coastal Wildlife Club members remove marine debris before sea turtle nesting season begins

More than 50 pounds of derelict fishing line removed

Members of the Coastal Wildlife Club display items they found during their March marine cleanup initiative. Image courtesy Coastal Wildlife Club

The Coastal Wildlife Club Inc. (CWC) organized a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-permitted crab trap and marine debris cleanup on March 14, partnering with divers from Suncoast Reefers, Sarasota Bay Watch, Sarasota Sea Grant, and Sarasota County’s University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension office, the nonprofit has announced.

Charlotte County also offered assistance, a news release notes.

Sarasota County staff provided a vessel and crew to support the divers, and CWC volunteers in kayaks provided additional assistance, the release says.

Divers removed more than 50 pounds of line and two stone crab traps from nearshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the release adds. “Other traps were too deeply embedded in the sand to be removed at [the] time,” the release points out.

“Derelict traps and derelict fishing gear are threats to all marine animals,” the release explains. “In the water, derelict line is an entanglement risk for sea turtles and manatees. Washed ashore, traps and line are potential obstructions for nesting sea turtles,” the release points out.

“The team was happy to improve habitat for marine life and, in particular, for the sea turtles that will be returning to our nesting beaches very soon,” the release says.

CWC is an entirely volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness about coastal areas and, especially, the wildlife species that depend upon beach and dune habitats in Southwest Florida, the release explains.

“Our primary and most visible project is monitoring beaches for sea turtle activity in Charlotte and Sarasota counties on Manasota Key, where sea turtles nest in greater numbers than anywhere else on the Gulf coast, and on a small section of Knight Island south of Stump Pass,” the release adds.