Grant: 03-R08R
Project Title: Mapping and Evaluation of Coastal Armoring Gaps on Florida's Southwest Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches
Project Manager: Daniel Evans
Organization: Caribbean Conservation Corporation (Non-Profit Organization)
Grant Amount: $18,900.00
Completion Date: 2004-08-31

Summary: This project expands a previous armoring gap mapping project and expands the current Beach Inventory data to include the occurrence and importance of gaps between armoring structures on sea turtle nesting beaches in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, Florida.

Results: In Sarasota County there are 25 gaps (pictured) of are a width of 250 feet or less and could qualify for armoring under Florida's Gap-Closure Law. These 25 gaps represent nearly ¾ mile of beach and sea turtle nesting. If five of these gaps are closed, the longest stretch of coastal armoring in the county would be nearly 1 ¼ miles in length. In Manatee County there are 34 gaps of a width of 250 feet or less and could qualify for armoring under Gap-Closure Law. These 24 gaps represent over a mile of beach and sea turtle nesting habitat. If 11 of these gaps are closed, the longest stretch of coastal armoring in the county would be over a 1/2 mile in length.

The counties of Sarasota and Manatee Counties make up nearly 48 miles of southwest Florida's sea turtle nesting habitat. Both Counties had a lower than expected armoring for the coastline, 10 ½ miles armored combined, considering the amount of coastline that has been classified as critically eroding. The low amounts of armoring is most likely a result of continued beach renourishment projects, especially in Manatee County. With nearly 22% of the total coastline for the two counties is now armored, any additional loss of nesting habitat in these areas of high Southwest Florida nesting is cause for concern. If the gaps that qualify for closure under the Gap-Closure Law are armored, an additional 1 1/4 miles of sea turtle nesting habitat in these two counties could be lost, for a total of nearly 12 miles, or 25% of the total coastline for the two counties. (Author: D. Evans)