It takes a village to protect the sea turtles nesting on Anna Maria Island.
For Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, help comes readily from volunteers and local businesses.
“We have remained a community-based nonprofit. We could not run this program without our community of wonderful longtime business owners on the island,” said AMITW executive director Suzi Fox.
Recent help came from Anthony Caminite, owner of Home True Value Hardware, 5324 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Caminite has owned the store for 40 years and said he is always willing to help AMITW.
He gave AMITW wooden shipping pallets, the kind most often found stacked around dumpsters or behind retailers. The pallets are providing valuable hiding places for newly hatched least terns at their beachfront nesting grounds in Bradenton Beach.
The least terns hide in the shade of the pallets and avoid detection from predators.
“We’re not great participants, we just help with what we can,” said Caminite. “She’ll call, and we just contribute the best we can, and as fast as we can.”
Caminite said he also helps with special orders for AMITW. This year he ordered pink ribbon to mark nests, and offered it to the group at cost.
He also carries turtle-friendly lights and long-wave length bulbs and shields to direct light away from beaches.
“One year I bought all the wrong paint and brushes and I couldn’t get the paint to stick on the stakes,” Fox said. “ I came to Tony and he gave me one large paint brush, and taught me how to clean it. He said ‘Here, it’s on me, I bet it’s the last paint brush you will ever buy’ and he was right. I still use Tony’s brush for all my projects.”
Fox said Caminite also donated a large shovel to remove dead fish from the beach, a big garbage pail to transport stakes and a great deal of support and advice.
Other businesses on the island have helped, too, including Mr. Bones BBQ in Holmes Beach and the City Pier Restaurant in Anna Maria. Both have donated meals for AMITW volunteers.
Fox also mentioned Anna Maria resident Carol Ann McGill, who ran out to the beach to help put up the buffer to secure a bird nesting ground.
Bradenton Beach public works also has chipped in, providing AMITW with an oil change for its ATV.
“We love our community and business owners like Tony,” Fox said. “Sometimes he is my dad reminding me to take care of my tools or helping me make a project run smoother and sometimes with his sweet jazzy smile he is my favorite boyfriend cheering me on when I’m having a down day. Tony is an icon on this island and we are so grateful that he and all his staff give us kind words and a helping hand.”