We truly appreciate the thought but there is nothing a visitor can do for a short time while they are here. All our staff are trained and certificated by the State of Florida to perform nesting beach duties.

Download AMITW Volunteer Guidelines here

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch
Volunteer Requirements & Guidelines

Walking the beach looking for sea turtle tracks is fun, especially if you find some tracks. And it sounds easy, but there are a surprising number of things to think about and you must keep in mind. This document will provide you with general information about our volunteer group and the requirements all of our volunteers must meet.

General Information:
AMITW Director: Suzi Fox has held the state marine turtle permit for our area since 1995. She is the director of our program and decides how we operate under the rules and regulations of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC).

AMITW Area Coordinators: AMI beaches are divided up into 9 main sections for AMITW coordinators to manage. Each volunteer is assigned to a particular section to walk and is under the supervision of an area coordinator.

Sea Turtle Nesting season/Volunteering season: The nesting season is May 1st through October 31st.

Volunteer Requirements:
Age – Must be at least 18 years of age. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by their parent or guardian on all walks.

Health – Must be in good physical condition to withstand long walks on the beach in hot, humid weather conditions.

Communication – You must have a cell phone to immediately contact your area coordinator during your volunteering activities. Coordinators will let you know if they need you to text or call as soon as your walk has been completed and if you find anything that looks like sea turtle tracks. In addition, all sorts of information is sent out via email so you will be expected to keep yourself up to date by checking your email regularly every day.

Volunteering Frequency – All volunteers must walk at least one day a week to be a part of the AMI Turtle Watch program.

Morning Nesting Surveys:

  • Expectations – You must let your area coordinator know as soon as possible if you are going to be unable to walk. This should be done via phone or text. You must confirm they got your message
  • Times – Walks begin just after dawn or first light, generally between 5:15 to 6:15 a.m. during the course of the season. We will start the season walking around 5:40 a.m. because it is still dark earlier than that time. As it gets lighter earlier, the walks will start earlier. Your area coordinator or Sharon may keep you informed on the preferred starting times during the season, but it is up to you to be out there just after dawn.
  • Stay focused – Remember, you are looking for tracks. It’s easy to let your mind wander to the beautiful environment you’re in, such as the eye catching cloud formations or dolphins in the water, but it only takes a few seconds to pass over turtle tracks (especially if they are from a smaller turtle). Always stay focused and keep a watchful eye on the task at hand.
  • Where to walk – Don’t walk too close to the water, you could miss tracks that have been washed out by a high tide and don’t walk too high up on the beach, you might miss a short false crawl. Not only do we document nests, we document false crawls. The spot at which you want to be at is located above the water line. Area coordinators will teach you this during your initial AMITW training.
  • Finding A Crawl or Nest – If you find something like a crawl or stranded turtle call your area coordinator immediately. They will need to investigate what you found. When in doubt, call. After calling you will need to put out flags to mark the incoming tracks, outgoing tracks, and the outer edge of the nest site. You will then need to continue your section’s walk and clear it before returning to the site. Never leave home with less than 20 flags. Flags can be pick up at AMITW offices at 2213 Ave B Bradenton Beach.
  • Weather – We walk in almost all weather conditions. This includes rain, but we are concerned with volunteer safety. If there is lightning on your beach at the time of your walk please call your area coordinator before proceeding on your walk. If you can, wait until the lightning passes. If you cannot wait or complete your walk at a slightly later time, then you must inform your area coordinator. Never feel you are expected to walk if there is lightning.

Beach Clearance Notifications: After daily surveys are finished Walkers much contact their area coordinator  with an report of what they have or have not found from their surveys. It is a requirement in our contract with the County that we clear each section of the beach daily. Walkers are urged to complete their walks and clear their sections by 7 a.m.

Ordinance Violations

  • Historically there have always been a few visitors who have set up early  walking nesting beaches before AMITW Staff  have even survayed for nesting.  or who have left their setups out overnight in violation of the ordinance. Doing either is illegal, a violation of the AMI City Ordinances. Setting up before we clear the beach or leaving setups out overnight can cause problems for sea turtles. Still, DO NOT engage any vendors who are setting up too early.What you can do is take a photo of the chairs with your camera or smart phone. We would need to know the name of the company who owns the chairs (its usually on the chairs or umbrellas) and the approximate location. If a vendor sets up after you walk past a given area, in other words if they set up behind you, do not go back to take a photo once you pass them by. Unless otherwise directed, photos should be sent to your area coordinator as soon as possible.The turtles are important, but so is your experience with Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch. We want your experience to be fun and enjoyable. We don’t want you to do anything you are uncomfortable doing. So if you are uncomfortable documenting violations, don’t do it.
  • Lights – Similarly lights that shine on the beach at night are a violation of the Lighting Ordinance. In the early morning hours you may see lights from homes or condos shinning on the beach. You may choose to document these violations or pass them by. Lights disorient nesting sea turtles and lead to the deaths of sea turtle hatchlings every year. If you choose to document lighting violations, you must be able to provide an address for the location. These photos should be forwarded to your area coordinator.

Do not let visitors that leave things on the beach or illegal lights distract you from your primary duty – your morning survey walks looking for sea turtle activity !

Uniforms/Shirts: All volunteers are expected wear their AMITW shirts while walking and taking part in any AMITW activities.

Supplies : Items required during your volunteer walks:

  • Cell phone – To make calls (to inform your area coordinator of any tracks, nests, etc.), to receive calls from your area coordinator and to call or text your area coordinator once your beach has been cleared.
  • Flags – Used to mark any tracks or nests. Your area coordinator will provide these
  • Gloves – Latex gloves should be with you at all times in the event your area coordinator needs help handling sea turtles. Your area coordinator can provide these.

Social Media: As AMITW volunteers, we understand the excitement about aiding such a wonderful endangered species. Having said that… sea turtles are a federally protected species. All sea turtles that nest in our area are endangered except the loggerhead, which is listed as threatened. We conduct our activities through a special permit granted by FWC. It is an important job. Some people can misconstrue what they see online or hear. Therefore, we do not allow volunteers to post or inform others of where nests are located or talk about any relocations of nests. We treat our efforts as a very important job for the protected species and not as social events. If people would like to see pictures they can visit our AMITW board approved Facebook page or web page. Thank you!