Brochure of Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Florida. Published by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).
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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge Spanning 20.5 linear miles along Florida’s central Atlantic coast, the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge represents the nation’s most significant land conservation and acquisition initiative to protect sea turtle nesting beaches. The unique federal, state, county and private partnership that has emerged to support this initiative represents a model for cooperation and communication among government agencies, conservation groups and the local community and has resulted in the purchase of 1,325 acres of barrier island habitats within the Refuge’s acquisition boundary. Cover photo: Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling/Blair Witherington This photo: Archie Carr NWR/ Brevard County/Nichole Perna Sea Turtles of Florida and the Refuge Sea turtles have existed for over 150 million years, and in just the past 100 years, six of the seven existing species have become federally listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Loggerhead hatchling/Blair Species Act. Witherington Five of those species, the green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback and loggerhead can be found in Florida. Out of these, the three species featured here nest on Florida’s beaches Female loggerhead/Jim Angy and in the Refuge in numbers seen nowhere else in the country. Green turtle hatchling/Jim Angy Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) Federally listed as threatened in 1978 Within the United States, loggerhead sea turtles nest principally in Florida but their nesting can range along the coast from Texas to Virginia, nesting farther from the tropics than any other marine turtle. Approximately 25% of all loggerhead nests in Florida occur within the 20.5 mile Refuge making it their most significant Female green turtle/Jim Angy nesting site in the Western Hemisphere. Loggerheads weigh up to 300 pounds and have an exceptionally large head and powerful jaws to support a diet of hard-shelled mollusks and crustaceans. Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Federally listed as endangered in 1978 Green turtles nest only in Florida within the United States and deposit more nests within the Leatherback hatchling/Jim Angy 20.5 mile Refuge than anywhere else in the state. Green turtles weigh up to 350 pounds, have a notable small head, and are the Female leatherback/Jim Angy only vegetarians of all the sea turtles species. Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) Federally listed as endangered in 1970 In the United States, a small population of leatherback turtles nest along the south and central Atlantic coast of Florida, including the Refuge. Leatherbacks are by far the largest of all sea turtles species weighing an average of 750 pounds with some reaching up to 2000 pounds. Leatherbacks are the only sea turtle species without a hard shell. Loggerhead nesting sequence/ Blair Witherington Tracks on the Beach From March through October, sea turtle nests are surveyed statewide by permit. Species identification and nest determinations are derived from early morning observations of tracks and other nesting signs that the sea turtles have left behind from the night before. Most survey areas have a daily count of species, nests and nesting attempts. A small, representative percentage of those nests are staked and tracked to monitor nest productivity through hatching. Loggerhead false crawl/Blair Witherington Jim Angy For more information about sea turtle monitoring in Florida, go to www. myfwc.com. A Living Laboratory Scientific studies of sea turtle nesting activity within the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge began in 1982 and continues by the Marine Turtle Research Group, a graduate program under the University of Central Florida. Collaboration between the University and many other research entities has resulted in a better understanding of sea turtle population biology, genetics, physiology, behavior, and ecological relationships. The Refuge thereby serves as a laboratory for the conservation of sea turtles worldwide. An Exemplary Partnership The Refuge spans 20.5 linear miles within four distinct segments on the barrier island between Melbourne Beach in Brevard County and Wabasso Beach in Indian River County. The acquisition boundary consists of approximately 2, 670 acres, of which 1, 325 acres have been purchased by various land management agencies. The majority of the acreage is owned by state and county partners and managed for both conservation and visitor access, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns and manages 258 acres, which are managed for conservation only. Ocean to Lagoon Habitats within the Refuge span the barrier island from the Atlantic Ocean west to the Indian River Lagoon and include beach, dunes, coastal scrub, maritime hammock, and mangrove swamp. These unique habitats represent some of the most fragile and endangered ecosystems in Florida and the nation. Photos, top to bottom: Eastern indigo snake, Florida scrub jay and coastal scrub habitat/Brevard County; piping plover and southeastern beach mouse/USFWS and inkberry/Blair Witherington Protecting our Inheritance Over 55 protected plants and animals occur in the Refuge, including the 19 federally threatened and endangered species listed below. Federally Listed as Threatened American crocodile Atlantic salt marsh snake Eastern indigo snake Florida scrub jay Johnson’s seagrass Loggerhead turtle Piping plover Southeastern beach mouse Federally Listed as Endangered Fragrant pricklyapple Green turtle Hawksbill sea turtle Humpback whale Kemp’s ridley sea turtle Leatherback turtle Right whale Smalltooth sawfish Sperm whale West Indian manatee Wood stork Scientific Concern about Declining Populations Blue land crab Southern white beach tiger beetle Wood rat Photos, top to bottom: wood stork/Jim Angy; West Indian manatee/Vince Lamb; blue land crab, Southern white beach tiger beetle, prickly pear cactus, gopher tortoise/Blair Witherington A Sea Turtle’s Best Friend Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge was named after the late Professor Archie Carr, a world renowned expert on sea turtles, preeminent conservationist, exceptional graduate professor of ecology, and awardwinning author of natural history books. “There is no civilized way to escape the obligation to save them (sea turtles).” Dr. Archie Carr 1909-1987/ Caribbean Conservation Corporation In 1956, the plight of sea turtles gained both national and international attention when Dr. Carr published The Windward Road. This account records what Dr. Carr saw during his Caribbean expedition to collect sea turtle data and warned of an impending loss of sea turtle populations. Leading sea turtle experts and the general public became increasingly concerned as world sea turtle populations did indeed decline from exploitation, commercial fishing gear, and the loss of nesting habitat as coastal real estate development accelerated. Dr. Carr’s appeal to save sea turtles inspired the international sea turtle conservation movement, which in part led to the establishment of the Refuge. Chosen by the Turtles The movement to establish a national wildlife refuge to protect sea turtle nesting habitat began in the late 1980’s when scientists agreed that one of the critical elements necessary to guarantee the continued survival of sea turtles was to permanently protect the best remaining nesting habitats in North America. Sea turtle nesting research that began in 1982 by one of Dr. Archie Carr’s protégés, Dr. Llewellyn Ehrhart, documented that certain stretches of beach in Brevard and Indian River Counties on Florida’s Atlantic coast were some of the most productive loggerhead nesting sites in the world, the most productive green turtle nesting site in North America and a significant nesting area for the leatherback turtle in Florida. It so happened then, that the site for the Refuge was chosen by the turtles themselves. The designation of the Refuge by Congress in 1989 recognized the Dr. Archie Carr global ecological importance of these made early beaches and dunes for sea turtles, the research attempts national significance of protecting the in Florida to remaining barrier island habitats, and monitor green the extraordinary contributions that sea turtle nesting Dr. Carr and Dr. Ehrhart have made behavior./ to sea turtle conservation. Caribbean Archie Carr National Wildlife Conservation Refuge is administered by staff at Corporation the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which also includes Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge. National Wildlife Refuges are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal agency under the Department of Interior. Visiting the Refuge All visitor facilities and access into the Refuge are provided by state and county partners. There are no day use fees unless visiting certain areas within Sebastian Inlet State Park. Please see the visitor map leaflet for more detailed information. Maritime hammock habitat/Brevard County Visitor Center Barrier Island Sanctuary Management & Education Center Situated in the heart of the Refuge and operated by Brevard County, the Center is located three miles north of Sebastian Inlet or 14 miles south of US-192. Address: 8385 South Highway A1A, Melbourne Beach, FL 32951. Phone: 321/723 3556. Beach Access Beach access within the Refuge is through Brevard and Indian River County beach parks and Sebastian Inlet State Park. All county public beach accesses are open for day use only. Wildlife Observation Sea Turtle Watch Programs The best time to view sea turtles is during peak nesting season in June and July. During these months, guided, night-time sea turtle watch programs are offered. Reservations for the programs are required. Interpretive Foot Trails A total of four trails on the west side of Highway A1A provide unique wildlife observation opportunities within the rare habitats of the barrier island ecosystem. Saltwater Fishing Surf fishing is permitted through all designated dune crossovers but outside life-guarded areas. Two ocean jetties and catwalks under the Inlet bridge at Sebastian Inlet State Park provide excellent fishing opportunities. State fishing regulations apply: www.myfwc.com or call 888/347 4356. Regulations Prohibited Activities n Night-time entry through county public beach accesses n Pursuing nesting sea turtles on the beach or picking up hatchlings n Feeding or disturbing wildlife and their nests n Releasing any wild or domestic animal n Searching for and collecting artifacts, plants and animals n Dogs, horses, ATV’s, bicycles or vehicles on public beaches or foot trails n Creation and use of unauthorized dune foot paths to access the beach n Camping and fires n Use of firearms and hunting Wildlife Emergencies Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888/404 3922 (injured or dead sea turtles and manatees; sightings of North Atlantic right whales; illegal feeding of raccoons) Lighting Code Enforcement Offices Outdoor and indoor lights should not be visible from the beach after 10 pm, May through October. Brevard County: 321/633 2086 Indian River County: 772/226 1249 Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge c/o Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex 1339 20th Street Vero Beach, FL 32960 Phone: 772/562 3909 x275 Fax: 772/299 3101 Email: ArchieCarr@fws.gov www.fws.gov/ArchieCarr U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 1 800/344 WILD http://www.fws.gov January 2010 Brevard County/Grace Foley