Local Students Learn How to Help Protect Sea Turtles

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It’s that time of year again when tourists flood the beach and that creates dangerous obstacles for sea turtles in the area. 

A group of students is learning how they can help save the turtles. 


“We are learning about the turtles and how to Keep the beach clean and safe,” said Claire Sherwood, 11-years-old.

May 1 to October 31 is sea turtle season, which is when hundreds of thousands of people come to the Panhandle to enjoy some fun in the sun but the more people on the beach the more obstacles for there are for the sea turtles.


“So, what we are trying to do is with the kids is, have the kids understand how hard it is because they are going to be a turtle,” explained Beth Coppedge, Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles, President.

“This little activity involves acting like a turtle. So, I’m actually digging up some sand and making a little egg area,” demonstrated Jayden Martinez, student.

Students from Emerald Coast Middle School joined the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles for a full day of challenges. 

“We got to do an obstacle course we got to act as the turtle and we put a backpack on our back and we had to go around the obstacles,” said Sherwood.

“It’s really interesting how turtles do that because they have 200 pounds on them walking up from the ocean up to the beach so it’s really interesting how they do that. It must be really hard,” said Noelle Hamer, Emerald Coast Middle School.

Each day for the next three days, a new wave of students will hit the beach. More than a thousand students have taken part in the program since it was created.

“We found cigarettes. We found peanuts soda cans, beer cans zip ties. Lots of dangerous stuff that can harm animals,” said Savannah Kahalley, student.


“It’s really hard to dig the hole how they do it. You can’t make it wide. It has to be straight down and then you have to flatten it out so that the other animals can’t tell what it is,” said Lauren Wasson, student.

“And I say how do you like being a turtle and they say I don’t like being a turtle… it’s too hard. And I say, okay then let’s protect them,” explained Beth Coppedge. 

The main goal is to protect save and educate visitors and locals about sea turtles in the area.
 

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