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Manatee County: Shorebirds-a-Plenty and Turtles Galore


BRADENTON -- Some people really love their job. You can see it in their face and hear it in their voice. They are doing just what they want to be doing. That was clearly the case for Suzi Fox and Glenn Wiseman when they stood before the Manatee County BOCC to give their Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring (AMITWSM) report. AMITWSM's Director, Suzi Fox thanked nearly everyone in the chambers for the turtle sensitive lights that the Manatee County Shore Protection Program provided for one of their projects. She expressed a special thanks to Natural Resources Department Director Charlie Hunsicker. 

Fox announced that there is a new kids program with tours every Wednesday, a new web site and an adopt-a-nest program that provides a personal plaque for those who adopt. Participants can also receive an Email on the condition of the nest. Fox told the commission she hears from people all over the world who often make Manatee County their choice for vacations. She explained that they almost always sign up for the turtle nesting beach tour or shorebird ID classes. In fact, she receives letters and calls daily. 

In concluding the presentation, Fox's colleague, Glenn Wiseman, handed her a DVD which pretty much said it all. It's unusual to have a movie, 12 minutes-plus long, play during a BOCC session, but it would have been difficult to have stopped it. The variety and the beauty of our shorebirds displayed in the video were unsurpassed. Wiseman, the still photographer and videographer for the DVD, captured all of the magic and wonder needed to take us all back to being a child.

Birds in shades of rainbows through flight and nesting, turtles hatching and shuttling to the sea; there was no one in the room that didn't milk every moment for more. The video reminded us all that we have much to be proud of regarding our local area. In fact, putting excerpts of that video onto the county's website might be an excellent way to fill hotel rooms.  

For almost 30 years, AMITWSM has coordinated conservation efforts for 12 miles of Manatee County shoreline, monitoring over 6,500 turtle activities, protected over 3,500 nest, with almost 30,000 eggs, and watched 215,680 hatchlings depart to become a future generation of loggerheads that will return to the region once mature. Protecting sea turtles and their habitat allows further understanding of what's required to protect our shoreline. 

Manatee beaches are considered some of the finest in the state. Our shores, our river and our preservation land have proved to be our most precious resources. The attention they have received in the past, and hopefully will get in the future, will surely dictate the county's fate. Programs like AMITWSM may be small in operation, but they are a huge part of the equity in our region.

Standing apart from other counties, especially those that have compromised their natural habitat and resources, is what brings an increasing amount of people here to vacation and live. It is here in Manatee County that people can find that the quality of life, trumps the quantity of life. Embracing these values will allow our region to continue to stand out as the champion of vacation spots. 

Special thanks should be given as well to Charlie Hunsicker, his crew and the BOCC for what they are doing to keep us beautiful. Together with groups like AMITWSM, our greatest resources can be preserved for our benefit, as well as future generations of Manatee County citizens. 


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