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Saving Sea Turtles in South Walton and Grand Cayman

One of the most indelible images in the recent fight to ban plastic straws was marine biologist Christine Figgener’s video of her team removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nose. Over the past few years cities such as Seattle have banned plastic straws in an effort to lessen the environmental impact humans have on the oceans. Companies like Starbucks, and American Airlines have followed suit, moving to ban single-use plastic straws entirely.

Now, hotels and destinations are getting in on the act. Both South Walton, FL., and Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in Grand Cayman have vowed to improve the lives of wildlife through their own measurable efforts.

South Walton

As one of the most ecologically diverse vacation destinations in the world, South Walton is home to rare coastal dune lakes and an array of migratory animal species—including the loggerhead sea turtle. Since female loggerhead turtles return to the same beach where they were born to nest, South Walton understands how important it is to keep the beaches clean and safe for these returning guests. Throughout the nesting season, South Walton Turtle Watch staff and volunteers work alongside various turtle conservation groups to monitor, protect and help guide the turtles to sea once they hatch.

Visit South Walton is proud to fund these efforts by contracting the South Walton Turtle Watch. To find out more, visit southwaltonturtlewatch.org.

Kimpton Seafire

Sustainability is woven throughout this Grand Cayman resort, with open-air architecture, meandering gardens, solar panels, eco-friendly materials and modern designs that utilize natural elements to maximize energy efficiency. All outdoor lighting at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, including lighting at the beach bar Coccoloba, is turtle-friendly; the lights are angled downwards to prevent rays from shining on the beach as nesting turtles and hatchlings confuse artificial light with the moonlight that directs them towards the sea. The Seafire team has partnered with the Cayman Turtle Research Center and is sponsoring Turtle releases at the resort for guests and locals to participate in. Seafire’s team was keen on participating in order to both help increase the turtle population and promote ecotourism on Seven Mile Beach.

Turtle tips for tourists:

  • Prevent all lights from illuminating the beach – Turn off balcony and porch lights and draw blinds each night. Use only flashlights with red film covers, since sea turtles become disoriented on their crawl back to the surf.
  • Look but don’t touch – Do not disturb or handle any sea turtles, their eggs or their nests. All are violations of both federal and state laws.
  • Don’t leave holes – Fill in any holes you dig including holes left from sticking poles and beach umbrellas into the sand. This will ensure others don’t get injured and that you don’t create obstacles for nesting sea turtles.
  • Keep the beach clean – Reduce litter by disposing of your trash properly and removing all personal items from the beach each night.
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