Sea Turtle Washback Program
Thank you to all our volunteers! This program is based solely on volunteer efforts, without you, we couldn't be successful. There was an overwhelming response from the community last year, and we look forward to seeing many of you again this season.
All volunteers must:
- Complete a county volunteer application. Applications will be only be accepted at the mandatory orientation sessions. Applications will not be accepted by mail, email, or fax.
- Pass a background check
- Possess a Florida Drivers License
- Children under the age of 18, that meet all the above requirements may volunteer. Those under 16 will not need to possess a valid FL Driver's License but must be accompanied by an adult.
- Dedicate the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month from September to November to walk the beach with your team to familiarize yourself with your co-volunteers and the beach you are designated to survey.
- Additionally, St. Johns County will be asking dedicated volunteers capable of a flexible schedule to fill the position of a Zone Captain.
- Zone Captains are responsible for coordinating volunteers through a phone tree system, completing data sheets, coordinating transport of washbacks, as well as providing the proper equipment at time of survey. St. Johns County will provide necessary equipment and data sheets.
- Attend one of the mandatory Orientation sessions (only need to attend one). This session will provide you with a basic understanding of sea turtles and the purpose of the program. Returning volunteers are not required to attend Orientation. Please RSVP to one orientation:
- Site Specific Training (need only to attend one): During this training, volunteers will complete a mock survey on the beach and learn how to process a Washback sea turtle.
- Friday, August 16 at Mickler's Landing from 5:30 to 6:30 pm
- Saturday, August 17 at Butler Park East from 9:00 to 10:30 am
If you are interested in becoming a Zone Captain this year, please check the appropriate box on your application. Zone Captains are responsible for volunteer team assigned to their area, coordinate surveys when asked, and are responsible for the upkeep of the washback materials assigned to them at the beginning of the season.
Zone Captain responsibilities will be outlined in detail at the first orientation session and volunteers will have the opportunity to request to be a Zone Captain. There are a limited number of zones, and captains are chosen on their availability and commitment to the program.
Additional Volunteer Opportunities
- Sea Turtle Patrol – Every spring and summer, sea turtles return to our coastline in St. Johns County to nest. The 2011 nesting season resulted in 640 nests which were slightly fewer than the previous year, but still significantly higher than the 2009 season. During the 2010 season there were 867 nests and there were 270 nests during the 2009 season.
Our 41 miles of beaches are walked and surveyed every morning at sunrise by our Sea Turtle Patrol Volunteers during the Sea Turtle Nesting Season, May 1 to October 31. These volunteers are coordinated by the permit holder of that stretch of beach, and are looking for signs that a sea turtle has nested. If a nest is determined the volunteers will then mark it with four posts, flagging tape and signage.
- Beach Clean-ups – Organize your own beach clean up and do your part to keep your beaches clean and coastal wildlfe safe.