WLRN documentary outlines turtles’ plight

WLRN’s new documentary “Troubled Waters: Turtle’s Tale” explores the impact of human behavior on our environment — as seen through the lens of one of the Keys’ most beloved and fragile underwater creatures — the sea turtle. Featuring acclaimed actor and ocean activist Ted Danson and narrated by award-winning Peter Coyote, the world premiere of this one-hour film will take place in the Florida Keys.

  • Key West: Wednesday, Aug 21 at 6 p.m. at Tropical Cinema; $5; reserve seats at tropiccinema.com.
  • Marathon: Thursday, Aug. 22 at 5:30 p.m. at Marathon Cinema; free; reserve seats at turtletale.org.

Both screenings will include a Q&A session with the film’s producers and participants. In Key West, the reception will take place after the screening and in Marathon, it will take place before.

“This is documentary is part of our long-term initiative to make our South Florida audience aware of the climate risks we’re dealing with here — from seal level rise to hot temperatures, and with this documentary, our ocean health,” said Adrienne Kennedy, one of the executive producers of the film, along side WLR’s general manager John Labonia. Kennedy said the spaces in Key West are filling up fast. To reserve a seat, email [email protected] or call 305-995-2256.

The documentary means to illuminate the human impact on endangered sea turtles ranging from climate change, rising seas, commercial fishing, polluted waters, discarded nets, hooks and fishing lines, and most significantly, trash, specifically plastic in our oceans. With ocean health intricately linked to human activity, “Troubled Waters” will reveal some of the technological advancements that are tackling the challenges faced by turtles and other marine mammals today.

Conservationists interviewed say nearly 100% of baby sea turtles are found with bellies filled with plastics, causing birth defects, food chain issues and all too often, premature death.

At the center of Troubled Waters is a dedicated team of biologists, researchers and conservationists. Often struggling to remain optimistic for the future, they pour their hearts and souls into saving a species with a past as old as the dinosaur. The story begins on the shores of Palm Beach County where conservationists at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center rescue and rehabilitate thousands of injured sea turtles a year, many of whom are found wrapped in trash, struck by boats or poisoned from toxic waters. Conservationists interviewed say nearly 100% of baby sea turtles are found with bellies filled with plastics, causing birth defects, food chain issues and all too often, premature death.

In the Florida Keys, Marathon Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach, alongside a team of experts, work diligently every day to save, rehabilitate and release turtles. The oldest full-time turtle hospital, founded by Richie Moretti in the 1980’s, tackles yet another life-threatening problem specific to sea turtles — a virus called Fibropapilloma.

“I don’t know how big a part we have in the documentary, but I know we made the cut because I’ve seen the trailer!” said Zirkelbach, laughing. She said the organization is profoundly grateful to be included in this documentary alongside other experts. “Beyond fixing turtles, we have a responsibility to share this information about turtles. Increased awareness can shift the course of the future with people who make decisions about our natural resources. I sincerely hope this documentary leaves people with that hope.”

In addition to the two turtle organizations, the documentary also cites the research from a Florida Atlantic University marine biologist studying the effect of rising temperatures on the sex of sea turtle hatchlings. Then the story extends across the U.S. to the National Energy Commission in Golden Colorado where chemical engineers are using bacteria and microbes to develop plastics that may one day decompose in just one year as opposed to hundreds or even thousands. Closer to home, the crew visits local surfers and owners of a Delray Beach Brewery, who’s love for the oceans prompted them to develop “edible” beer and soda rings made from wheat and barley.

Marathon Cinema will screen “Troubled Waters” on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 5:30 p.m. The film outlines the impact of human behavior on our environment from the perspective of sea turtles, and features the work of The Turtle Hospital, among others. RSVP by Friday, Aug. 16 at turtletale.org.

WLRN Public Radio invites Florida Keys residents to join the conversation in a special edition of Sundial: Changing Currents -The Fight To Save South Florida’s Marine Life, broadcast live from the Studios of Key West on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, from 1 to 2 p.m. Seats are free, but limited, and guests must be seated by 12:40 p.m. To register, visit tskw.org.

Luis Hernandez, host of WLRN Public Radio’s daily program Sundial, will moderate the discussion about risks and solutions that can help save Florida’s sea life. South Florida’s marine life faces serious challenges. The program panelists will include WLRN’s Florida Keys reporter Nancy Klingener, Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers, science director of Audubon Florida Jerry Lorenz, founder and director Richie Moretti and manager Bette Zirkelbach of Marathon’s Turtle Hospital.

Sundial will be broadcast live on 91.3 WLRN and 91.5 WKWM in the Florida Keys from 1 to 2 p.m. The program will re-broadcast again at 8 p.m.

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