Longboat’s Turtle Gods may seek revenge on Town

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While the average age on Longboat Key may be 70 years old, it really was not so long ago when reproductive urges were in full swing and their consummation led to one of life’s great miracles — a tiny baby emerging into the bright lights of a hospital.

Most of Longboat Key’s Commissioners remember the day they drove home some 40 years ago with their wife and newborn — not in a Lexus 460 or Audi A8 or a G Wagon, but back then in an Impala or Dodge Dart or god forbid, a Pacer or Gremlin.

They took their baby home and guess what? There was a nursery with a crib, rocking chair, diaper changing table, burp cloths, the little baby socks and a few small hats and a mobile that played a soothing song above the crib.

Why were all these things in place? Who bought all of these items?

They were there because of the eternal instinct to nest. The instinct to create a situation that maximizes the comfort and chance for the new baby to flourish.

Sadly we cannot inspire some of our very own Town Commissioners to extrapolate that sentiment to the nesting sea turtles on Longboat Key.

The turtles require no hospital, healthcare plan, midwife, crib, nanny or breastfeeding from us — all they need is for property owners on the beach to not shine their lights at night so they can fulfill their singular mission in life.


Baby we were Born to Crawl

Some of our commissioners exude hostility. They are in a paradigm of Man vs. Nature mode wherein they see property rights as threatened by a set of rules that makes it illegal to illuminate the beach with your houselights.

Every other community has such rules in place and we  — Longboat Key — have the laxest and most antiquated regulations of all of the neighboring municipalities. And yet this is not seen as a shameful situation that should quickly be corrected. Instead, we have three commissioners who simply do not “get it.”

What I mean by that is the vast majority of Longboaters  cherish the fact that the island they live in has one of the greatest and rarest occurrences seen in nature with a record number of sea turtles hatching each year. It is a ritual we can all work with and around as property owners. It is also something that is an exciting part of what makes the area remarkable. In many ways it is yet another selling point of living in such a rich and diverse marine environment. It should make us proud to want to be stewards of the turtles and adamant about not creating nesting obstacles.


When data meets hostility…

Right now, the biggest obstacle to the reproductive success of turtles on Longboat Key is Commissioner Phill Younger.  He is using his legalisms not to craft a better ordinance, but to fight the new rules that are needed. He is arguing in the way a defense attorney fights for a clearly guilty defendant — picking at the evidence and the technicalities.

Do not mistake me; I like Phill Younger. I like him as a person and as a Longboat Key Commissioner. He has a charming southern drawl with an acerbic tinge — a beachside James Carville with a penchant for minutia and the intricacies of excel spreadsheets.

But sometimes the critical analysis is an overused argumentative device, a trope of sorts. This is one of those times.

We have heard him question the scientific data. When told Longboat has a disproportionate number of disoriented turtles, it is as if Younger and two other commissioners have an a priori disagreement with the “facts” and challenge the data, the collection of the data, the interpretation of the data, Mote Marine, the State regulators, the turtle watch eyewitnesses and the the Town Staff.

But the data and the scientists and Mote are not the enemy and neither are the nesting turtles. This is neither an archetypal Man vs. Nature debate nor a protection of property rights issue. This is the knee jerk response of a handful of commissioners who are bordering on being callous, out of touch and simply not representing the very community and environment they are charged to protect.

To put it simply, one would hope the Commission could have the wisdom to pass the new turtle protection ordinance. It puts us in the “somewhat protective” category with a set of regulations that are still far less stringent than most of our neighbors.

Our turtle ordinance is outdated, bordering on illegal and unjustifiable and out of touch with every other community in the region. Even the state said it could barely approve our beach permits because of our weak turtle rules and the sheer number of dead turtles found on our beaches.

What should have and could have been swift execution and acceptance of the new turtle regulations has turned into a three-workshop torture session.


The spirits of dead turtles

Perhaps the myths of history can teach us.

In the Aegean coast in pre biblical times when property owners along the shoreline failed to extinguish their torches, thousands of turtles were found dead on the beach. The Turtle Gods took offense.

It was after this massive amount of hatchling death that the Greek concept of the Erinyes, also known as the Furies, was born. The spirits of the dead turtles chased the torchbearers in their dreams and haunted them and drove them mad.

Even after death the dead turtle spirits chased the torchbearers into the underworld. They chased them at a slow, turtle-like pace, but chased them nonetheless and they tracked them down slowly to get their revenge —all because the Aegeans did not extinguish their torches.

Perhaps the Commission and Phill Younger can learn a lesson from the Ancient Greeks.





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2 Responses for “Longboat’s Turtle Gods may seek revenge on Town”

  1. L says:

    The turtles must be looking for the missing beaches.

  2. Gregory House says:

    Phil Younger and the Town Commission may have the luxury of being able to regard turtles being led to their eternal demise as an issue that is not of their worry. I can permit a lot of crap however; when it comes to the point where commissioners have the audacity to try and play god, deciding whether or not a creature will live or if it will die, I begin to turn enraged! It disgusts me to a point beyond words that our commission will most likely sidestep their lack of regard for turtles’ lives to a juncture where they say that turtles have no problems getting to sea. #SaveLBKturtles2016 #PsycopathicCommissioners

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