Sea Turtle Emergency Response Program (STERP)
When specific weather events occur in the fall, STERP volunteers walk the beach to search in the seaweed piles for post hatchlings (aka “washbacks”), in order to find and rescue them. In 2016, we had a major event following hurricane Mathew. Over 2000 were found along our beaches. In most cases, they were found along the beaches and not in seaweed (Sargassam), which was unusual.
Volunteers take the post hatchlings to designated drop-off locations. The volunteers will also educate the beach-going public on sea turtle’s do’s and don’ts, using Sea Turtle Education Cards.
Volunteers may assist with transporting sea turtles to rehab facilities at Brevard Zoo, Sea World, Ponce Inlet, Mote and other locations, using either their own vehicles (must be enclosed) or our mini-van. We utilize STERP volunteers when we have other major events, such as cold stuns and educational projects. Many of our volunteers have been added to the Stranding and Salvage Permit, allowing them to work with all types of sea turtles in need, and some are now members of the Board of Directors. This is also a great opportunity to involve the entire family. Training for this program needs to be completed annually.
Annual training for the Sea Turtle Emergency Response Program (STERP) is scheduled for the following dates and locations. It is required annually for those interested. STERP was developed to rescue post hatchlings during and after fall weather events that create conditions where post hatchlings are washed ashore. Teams will collect them under specific situations and must be authorized by FWC.
The training class is about 2 hours and requires registration. STPS volunteers are asked to register through the VIC system, to be sure to be listed on the Letter of Consent. VIC registration here
All others, who want to learn about STERP, are to register using Sign Up Genius at the following links:
To qualify for the STERP team, you must be a member of STPS, complete the training annually and have taken a volunteer orientation class.
This training is open to the public for education. Authorization from Florida Wildlife Commission is required to legally participate in the rescue activities of STERP.