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USPS issues new stamp collection highlighting Alabama sea turtles

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The latest Forever Stamp collection by the United States Postal Service (USPS) shines a light on Alabama reptiles. Sea turtles have been around for millions of years, and most of the species are considered endangered. There are three types of sea turtles that nest along the Yellowhammer State’s shoreline: Loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley and Green.

The new Protect Sea Turtles stamps from USPS showcase six unique sea turtle species taken by different photographers. The cost is $12.24 for a sheet (18 stamps) or 68¢ for an individual stamp. The collection was issued on June 11 ahead of World Sea Turtle Day on June 16, an observance used to honor and highlight the importance of sea turtles.

United States Postal Service

In Alabama, a nonprofit focused on improving and protecting the Yellowhammer State’s shoreline environment also works to protect sea turtles. The Alabama Coastal Foundation’s (ACF) Share the Beach program focuses on conservation efforts for the animals.

Objectives of the initiative are:
· To mitigate human-related impacts to sea turtles, especially the effects of artificial light pollution
· To monitor sea turtle nests and hatchlings on the Alabama Gulf Coast
· To promote the conservation of sea turtles in Alabama through public outreach and education

Sea turtle nesting season in the Yellowhammer State began May 1 and will end on October 31, which is also a popular time for beach tourism along the Alabama Gulf Coast. ACF Executive Director, Mark Berte, said the new Forever Stamps from the USPS will help increase activism for sea turtles.

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“We're encouraging everybody [to buy them], wherever you live. We have people who are snowbirds that have heard about this,” he said. "So, they could still buy those stamps. The more people realize and put those on their letters and postcards, the more people want to ask about and protect those endangered species.”

Berte said the two of the biggest threats to sea turtles are human threats and light pollution. Because of these threats, the ACF created the Share the Beach program to raise awareness and educate Alabama locals and visitors.

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The initiative began in 2005 and follows the protocols set in place by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the federal Endangered Species Recovery Permit to ensure that sea turtles are able to make their way to and from the water during hatching season.

“[Share the Beach] was created to basically mitigate human-related impacts to sea turtles, especially the effects of artificial light pollution,” Berte explained. “We try to encourage the people who come and enjoy our beaches… try to educate them about not using white flashlights. We have Share the Beach flashlights that don't disorient sea turtles.”

Berte mentioned endangering sea turtles and their nests have severe consequences. He also said there are many things that beachgoers can do to help with conservation efforts such as using tote bags.

“The people who maybe don't want to protect our sea turtles should know that there are fines and even jail time if you do mess with a sea turtle,” Berte said. “It's not an easy thing to be able to witness those beautiful creatures and to really appreciate that we humans can do a lot of things to make sure to protect them, including using sea turtle friendly bags, those tote bags and flashlights, and also even buying those U.S. stamps.”

Along with sea turtle safety, ACF has information for locals or those from out-of-state visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast for summer vacation, which can be found here.

“It's not only important stuff about sea turtles but even identifying what a rip tide is. So, it helps to keep all of your people safe to have a great and enjoyable vacation on Alabama's beaches,” Berte said.

Anyone who may come across an unmarked sea turtle nest or a sea turtle in need are encouraged to call the Alabama Sea Turtle Hotline at 1-866-Sea-Turtle (1-866-732-8878).

For more information on sea turtle conservation and beach safety, visit the ACF website.

Andrea Tinker is a student intern at Alabama Public Radio. She is majoring in News Media with a minor in African American Studies at The University of Alabama. In her free time, Andrea loves to listen to all types of music, spending time with family, and reading about anything pop culture related.

Baillee Majors is the Morning Edition host and a reporter at Alabama Public Radio.
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