Pier staff ahead of the curve

Navarre is a magical place. The beaches are beautiful, the sunsets divine – but what really makes our home special is the people.

Take Monday morning, for example. A fisherman accidentally hooked a Loggerhead off the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. Once he notified the pier staff, employees immediately set their rescue plan in motion.

As a crowd started forming on the shore, Cathy Holmes, director of the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center, arrived at the pier and, in a T-shirt and long pants, waded out to the where the turtle was hooked.

She was joined by Judd Smith, who works at the pier. The two brought the turtle to shore where another pier employee, Ed Duran, and a tourist, Chris Powell, helped Holmes free the turtle from the hook.

How’s that for teamwork?

The pier staff recently participated in training through the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, located in Juno Beach. It is one of 12 turtle rehab centers in Florida, and according to its website, the center cares for between 50 and 60 juvenile through adult sea turtles and more than 1,000 hatchlings each year.

According to the center, the endangered loggerhead is the most common sea turtle in Florida. In an effort to promote awareness and protect sea turtles who can accidentally get hooked, the group created the Responsible Pier Initiative.

The initiative works directly with fishermen and fishing pier staff.

“The purpose of these efforts is to provide first-responders on fishing piers with the necessary resources to respond effectively to sea turtle injuries and strandings on or around fishing piers.”

With 31 piers participating in Florida, Texas, Virginia and even Puerto Rico, the initiative has rescued 25 sea turtles. According to the website, more than 2,400 pounds of debris has been removed from beneath participating piers and the surrounding areas, and more than 18,000 plastic, aluminum and glass items have been recycled.

The initiative offers educational workshops for fishing pier “first responders,” the employees who are first on scene when a sea turtle is hooked. Participating piers also receive educational signage and rescue nets.

Navarre Beach Pier staff has much to be proud of – one of 31 piers in the country working to protect our marine life.

Like we said, Navarre is a magical place. We’re lucky to live in an area that values our environment and the creatures who inhabit it.

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