With vast coastlines fringed with vivid coral formations, Florida is America’s only state to be flanked by a living barrier reef. The Florida Reef Tract is a naturalist’s paradise, and it’s fiercely protected by many Floridan marine conservation initiatives. From regular beach clean-ups to a busy calendar of talks and events, guests at The Chesterfield Palm Beach can easily do their bit while enjoying Florida’s extraordinary natural beauty. We explore how we can give back and help preserve the Sunshine State’s shores.
Illegal poaching and littering are just two of the threats faced by Florida’s sea life, particularly its sea turtle population. Light pollution from the city disrupts the hatchlings’ journey to the ocean, as the young turtles mistake the artificial glow for the waves, and lose their way. Freak cold weather spells also have a negative impact on the sea turtles. In the past, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has rallied volunteers from far and wide to rescue endangered sea turtles, stunned by cold surfs or stranded on beach fronts that are littered with plastics and tar from oil spills. The organisation offers a busy year-round roster of marine conservation events across Florida. Attend one to learn about how fishing for blackfin tuna is regulated, or sponsor the institute’s litter clean-up in the wilds of the Apalachicola National Forest. These wetlands are an important habitat for many species, including the rare and endangered purple bankclimber mussel.
Every year, more than 10,000 conservation activists gather at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center on Juno Beach, half an hour from The Chesterfield, for TurtleFest. The free-admission event held every year in March promotes the protection of endangered sea turtles through lively local bands and an array of stalls selling handmade arts and crafts. There are also fun, educational presentations, games and activities to keep younger visitors entertained. One of the event’s main messages is in support of responsible tourism, to leave behind zero waste after a day at the beach. It’s a cause that resonates with The Red Carnation Hotel Collection’s main environmental objective for 2019: Saying no to plastic.
“There are so many fantastic organisations that are making an impact”, says Caroline Tapley, Education Programs Coordinator at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. “Every bracelet 4Ocean sells funds the removal of one pound of trash from oceans and coastlines. So far, they have removed over 4 million pounds of waste. Another organization that inspires us is Sea Turtle Adventures, a not-for-profit that aims to conserve local populations of sea turtles and educate the public.” Sea Turtle Adventures partners with LMC to collect monofilament fishing line and arrange events such as Turtle Walk.
Another species that marine conservationists in Florida are pioneering to protect is the manatee. Manatee Lagoon, 20 minutes from The Chesterfield, puts on an excellent programme of sea cow-themed events, including adults and kids yoga sessions overlooking Lake Worth Lagoon to offer a hopeful glimpse of the gentle giants in their natural habitat. “We inspire communities to preserve and protect Florida’s environment and wildlife for future generations,” says Brittany Balcer, the centre’s Communication Specialist.
With fun, interactive exhibition spaces and a varied monthly syllabus for the whole family—think marine-themed art classes, engaging science talks and an opportunity for budding biologists to study manatee migration patterns—there’s plenty to inspire. Although manatees are no longer classified as endangered, the species remains threatened, and the Lake Worth Lagoon community adheres to seasonal boating speed limits during manatee season, between November and March.
Contribute to marine conservation efforts in Florida when staying at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Chesterfield Palm Beach.