Pier sea turtle rescue program ranks top in state

Posted on December 9, 2020 by Romi White

Pier staff and anglers pictured rescuing a large Loggerhead using a rescue net designed to aid large sea turtles by Center volunteer Ralph Agnew. Photo courtesy Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center.

The Navarre Beach Fishing Pier is known for scenic views of and fishing opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico. However, it’s also building up a reputation for sea turtle rescues after helping the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center attain the top rank in the state for successful pier rescues.

Cathy Holmes, the NBSTCC’s Conservation, Education and Research Director, says the organization and pier have a “smooth-running machine” when it comes to rushing to the aid of distressed turtles – some of whom accidentally become snagged on anglers’ hooks.

NBSTCC participates in the Loggerhead MarineLife Center’s Responsible Pier Initiative and has had 41 successful rescues to date in 2020.

After rescued sea turtles are transported to the Gulfarium CARE Center in Okaloosa County for rehabilitation and, when possible, eventual release.

Navarre Beach Pier Operator Ken Fountain says the Responsible Pier Initiative is critical to protecting sea turtles and all wildlife at the pier.

“It is a big success because devoted volunteers from the center partner with pier staff and the local fishing community to rescue injured turtles,” Fountain said. “We are very grateful for everyone’s cooperation and hard work. This initiative is a superb example of non-profit, private business and local community working together to protect our environment.”

Holmes praised pier staff for the partnership, specifically Thomas Thielman and Tom Thorpe, who have received training to aid in the rescues. Holmes said the crew springs into action any time there’s a need for a rescue and calls the Center immediately.

For more information on NBSTCC visit www.navarrebeachseaturtles.org