Town Commission members are complaining about spotting marked sea turtles nests on their beachfront land — nests that they said had all been put there, without permission, by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

“They relocated 400 eggs onto private property and didn’t tell us,” Deputy Mayor Deborah Roseman said in an interview this week. “We learned about it by going out and seeing all these roped off areas on private property.” -Craig Pittman, Tampa Bay Times



A view of the beach where employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation program with Clearwater Marine Aquarium check on sea turtle nesting sites on the beach in Belleair Shore.
A view of the beach where employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation program with Clearwater Marine Aquarium check on sea turtle nesting sites on the beach in Belleair Shore. "They relocated 400 eggs onto private property and didn’t tell us," Deputy Mayor Deborah Roseman said in an interview this week. "We learned about it by going out and seeing all these roped off areas on private property." (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
A view of the beach where employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation program with Clearwater Marine Aquarium check on sea turtle nesting sites. Roseman said she spotted six nests on her property, while Commissioner Steve Blum said he spotted one that had been relocated to his waterfront land by the aquarium and its volunteers. But David Yates, the CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, suggested the two commissioners may want to check their property deeds — and also their math. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
A view of the beach where employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation program with Clearwater Marine Aquarium check on sea turtle nesting sites. Roseman said she spotted six nests on her property, while Commissioner Steve Blum said he spotted one that had been relocated to his waterfront land by the aquarium and its volunteers. But David Yates, the CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, suggested the two commissioners may want to check their property deeds — and also their math. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
Employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation program with Clearwater Marine Aquarium check on sea turtle nesting sites .
Employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation program with Clearwater Marine Aquarium check on sea turtle nesting sites . "We’re not trying to violate someone’s property rights," David Yates, the CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, said. And not all those nests are ones that were relocated from another beach area, he said. "That one nest behind Commissioner Blum’s property, that’s a natural nest," Yates said. As for what’s near Roseman’s home, he said, "there are eight nests out there. Three of them were relocated, but the other five were not. They’re natural nests." (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
Employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation program with Clearwater Marine Aquarium check on sea turtle nesting sites. Despite Yates’ assurances, Roseman insists that the turtles are trespassing — at least according to the way Belleair Shore measures the property boundaries. Belleair Shore prides itself on marching to its own syncopated snare drum. While other beach towns beg for state and federal help in rebuilding their beaches after a storm, Belleair Shore has consistently rejected any beach renourishment projects. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
Employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation program with Clearwater Marine Aquarium check on sea turtle nesting sites. Despite Yates’ assurances, Roseman insists that the turtles are trespassing — at least according to the way Belleair Shore measures the property boundaries. Belleair Shore prides itself on marching to its own syncopated snare drum. While other beach towns beg for state and federal help in rebuilding their beaches after a storm, Belleair Shore has consistently rejected any beach renourishment projects. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
Belleair Shore prides itself on marching to its own syncopated snare drum. While other beach towns beg for state and federal help in rebuilding their beaches after a storm, Belleair Shore has consistently rejected any beach renourishment projects. The reason: A rebuilt beach is, by law, a public beach. People in Belleair Shore — a spaghetti-thin strip of incorporated land where the median income is $188,750 and the median property value is $2 million — do not wish to share their slice of paradise with the hoi polloi. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
Belleair Shore prides itself on marching to its own syncopated snare drum. While other beach towns beg for state and federal help in rebuilding their beaches after a storm, Belleair Shore has consistently rejected any beach renourishment projects. The reason: A rebuilt beach is, by law, a public beach. People in Belleair Shore — a spaghetti-thin strip of incorporated land where the median income is $188,750 and the median property value is $2 million — do not wish to share their slice of paradise with the hoi polloi. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
Employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation program with Clearwater Marine Aquarium check on sea turtle nesting sites. Yet the lack of any beach renourishment is what makes Belleair Shore the perfect spot for relocating nests, Yates said. On dark nights from May through October, thousands of female sea turtles — all from species listed as threatened or endangered — swim up to Florida’s beaches, climb up to a dry spot, dig a hole and lay scores of golf-ball-sized eggs. Then they cover up the hole, drag themselves back into the surf and swim away. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
Employees of the Sea Turtle Conservation program with Clearwater Marine Aquarium check on sea turtle nesting sites. Yet the lack of any beach renourishment is what makes Belleair Shore the perfect spot for relocating nests, Yates said. On dark nights from May through October, thousands of female sea turtles — all from species listed as threatened or endangered — swim up to Florida’s beaches, climb up to a dry spot, dig a hole and lay scores of golf-ball-sized eggs. Then they cover up the hole, drag themselves back into the surf and swim away. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
All over the state, trained volunteers go out every morning just before sunrise to look for the drag marks, then post markers around the nests so no one disturbs them before the eggs hatch. When there’s a potential problem with a nest site, they will carefully dig up the eggs and move them. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
All over the state, trained volunteers go out every morning just before sunrise to look for the drag marks, then post markers around the nests so no one disturbs them before the eggs hatch. When there’s a potential problem with a nest site, they will carefully dig up the eggs and move them. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
The Clearwater crew, working under a permit from the state wildlife commission, has been moving turtle nests out of the way of sand-moving machinery on nearby Belleair Beach to keep them from being run over or otherwise disturbed. That’s why they’re relocating them to Belleair Shore, to make sure the little hatchlings have a safe route back to the water once they emerge. Yates said this is the first time anyone’s objected in the 30 years the aquarium has been marking and occasionally relocating sea turtle nests. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
The Clearwater crew, working under a permit from the state wildlife commission, has been moving turtle nests out of the way of sand-moving machinery on nearby Belleair Beach to keep them from being run over or otherwise disturbed. That’s why they’re relocating them to Belleair Shore, to make sure the little hatchlings have a safe route back to the water once they emerge. Yates said this is the first time anyone’s objected in the 30 years the aquarium has been marking and occasionally relocating sea turtle nests. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
"Most people enjoy having these nests in their area and watching them hatch," Yates said. He chalked it up to the ongoing controversy over public beach access that erupted earlier this year. The Legislature passed a law favoring private owners over the public, and Gov. Rick Scott signed it, despite letters and emails to his office running 8-1 in favor of a veto. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
The new law blocks local governments from adopting ordinances to allow continued public entry to privately owned beaches, even when property owners may want to block off their land. Instead, any city or county that wants to do that has to get a judge’s approval first by suing the private landowners. The law sparked an angry public backlash. Scott, who owns a waterfront mansion in Naples, backpedaled and signed an executive order that asked local governments not to enforce it. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)
The new law blocks local governments from adopting ordinances to allow continued public entry to privately owned beaches, even when property owners may want to block off their land. Instead, any city or county that wants to do that has to get a judge’s approval first by suing the private landowners. The law sparked an angry public backlash. Scott, who owns a waterfront mansion in Naples, backpedaled and signed an executive order that asked local governments not to enforce it. (Dirk Shadd, Tampa Bay Times)