Each year, just as endangered sea turtles make their way to the white-sand beaches of Alabama’s shoreline to nest, hundreds of volunteers gear up for another season of Share the Beach activities. During hatching season, from May to October, these creatures become our neighbors as they lay eggs and those eggs hatch from their nests. Volunteers assist our temporary residents in making the perilous journey to the water, but there’s much more to the Share the Beach program than being onsite during a hatching.
Our mission and objectives are:
- To mitigate human-related impacts to sea turtle nesting, especially the effects of artificial light pollution, by ensuring turtle hatchlings reach the Gulf of Mexico through the presence of volunteers.
- To monitor sea turtle nests and hatchlings on the Alabama Gulf Coast.
- To promote the conservation of sea turtles in Alabama through public outreach and education.
The Share the Beach program was formed in 2005 by the Friends of the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores, Alabama. In 2018, the Friends Group and the Alabama Coastal Foundation (ACF) announced that ACF is the new home for the Share the Beach program.
The Share the Beach program follows protocols set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the federal endangered species recovery permit. Volunteers are able to help protect the nesting sea turtles and their habitat under these guidelines through donations from sponsors and from the Adopt-a-Nest program. The program does not receive federal funding. Share the Beach volunteers patrol the beach, educate the public and school groups, conduct late-night nest observations and assist with supply and equipment preparations. The dedicated volunteers of the Share the Beach program help ensure the support and protection of these popular endangered ocean creatures when they are just tiny turtles beginning their journey. For more on how you can take part, visit How You Can Volunteer or the Adopt-A-Nest page.