Thursday, March 5, 2009

Enjoy a Sea Turtle Friendly Vacation in WindMark Beach

The Sea Turtle Nesting Season begins May 1st and runs through October 31st in Gulf County, Florida. WindMark Beach is the ONLY community in the state of Florida to earn a "Wildlife-Friendly" certification because of its efforts to preserve these and other wonderful creatures sharing their coast. WindMark uses specialized lighting to keep lights off the beach and the adjacent wildlife community within the Village.Hatching sea turtles move toward the brightest light on the beach at night, because they instinctively believe it is the moon shining over the water. At WindMark Beach, the developers ensured the Village lighting is not even visible from the beach.
Bill Lynn, a wildlife biologist employed by WindMark and St. Joe Company, says that, "Protecting the environment is important to our company. Not only that, our customers want to be environmentally friendly."

While most coastal counties have lighting ordinances, it is still an issue on some beaches. Some highly imperiled turtle species, such as giant leatherback turtles and loggerheads, nest on these same beaches.When the hatchlings dig to the surface, normally at night, and see street lights, they head toward them and away from the water, which often means they die. In 2003 biologists determined over 79,300 hatchling sea turtles on Florida coasts either died or had to be picked up and returned to the water after heading inland. Lights displayed on beaches also disrupt the nesting habits of several species of shorebirds, making them more vulnerable to predation.

Dean Gallagher was the FWC biologist who worked with St. Joe and their wildlife-friendly certification for WindMark Beach. He now works with the University of Hawaii. He has high praise for the way everyone connected with the project embraced the idea of making it a wildlife-friendly development.

"Instead of using 40-foot poles for street lighting, they used low, 12-foot poles with full-cutoff fixtures. They were so well-done you can't see the lighting from the beach," Gallagher said. ~Port St. Joe Star, May 9, 2007

This summer, families who visit Summer Dream will be able to observe loggerhead turtles in their natural habitat. You may even choose to join the Gulf Coast Conservation Association's efforts to preserve this endangered species, by signing up to perform "Turtle Patrol" during your stay. To learn more about the sea turtles in Gulf County, or to volunteer during your WindMark Beach vacation, visit the GCA Turtles website.


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  2. Definitely a nature friendly effort! I'm glad that there have been collaborations on the part of the government, private sector and concerned individuals to finally take care of Turtles. The vacation of visiting families would truly be worthwhile of they spend some time helping in this advocacy.

    Last year we stayed in resorts in Panama City Beach, FL. We stayed in comfortable vacation rentals in Panama City Beach, FL too. There had been numerous activities that entertained everyone of us.

    This year though, we plan to participate in such efforts. Maybe we could drop by at WindMark Beach before staying at some resort. That way, we could contribute to this Eco friendly effort. Thanks!