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Do One Thing for Wildlife, Biologist Urges

May 11, 2009 — Join the "Do One Thing for Wildlife" campaign and you'll help the territory's animals, said Renata Platenberg, wildlife biologist in the Fish and Wildlife Division of the Planning and Natural Resources Department.
"It's a program to engage people in the local environment," she said Monday.
Platenberg hatched the local version of the "Do One Thing for Wildlife" campaign after hearing about it on television. For now the campaign has no funding, so she puts out an email newsletter with tips on helping wildlife.
Small efforts, such as putting sugar out for sugarbirds and hummingbirds, helps with their food supply, but Platenberg said that more ambitious folks can tackle such projects as building log piles in their gardens to provide a habitat for lizards.
The first newsletter came out in February, and Platenberg said she's heard from many residents since then about what they do to help wildlife.
The May newsletter focuses on "Sensational Sea Turtles." In addition to lots of information about the green, leatherback and hawksbill turtles that call the territory home, Platenberg provides tips on how to protect them and their habitat.
Start by keeping plastic out of the ocean so sea turtles don't eat it. Floating plastic bags look like the jelly fish that sea turtles eat. When the plastic gets stuck in their intestines, they can starve to death.
"It's a slow death," she said.
Platenberg asks readers to take plastic garbage home from the beach, ensure that balloons taken to the beach don't stay there and carry goods in reusable shopping bags instead of plastic.
Additionally, the newsletter points out that fires lit on the beach can cook turtle eggs buried in the sand. To make sure this doesn't happen, she suggests getting a fire permit from V.I. Fire Services.
"And don't drive on the beach," she said, ticking off a suggestion that prevents eggs from getting crushed.
While the driving tip didn't make the newsletter, Platenberg's other newsletter tips include reducing lighting that turtles can see from the beach because it interferes with their return to the sea.
"Turtles use the light of the moon to tell them how to get back to the sea," and lights on the beach confuse them, she said.
Platenberg suggested planting grass on bare patches of land to reduce sediment washing into the ocean and smothering the reefs and seagrass. The turtles live on the reefs and eat the seagrass, she said.
Platenberg would like people to use biodegradable sunscreen, because a study at Trunk Bay, St. John, showed that chemicals in regular sunscreen contribute to coral bleaching. But she said she can't find any for sale on St. Thomas.
Email Platenberg for the May issue of "Do One Thing for Wildlife" and to get on the email list for future issues.
See previous issues by clicking here. Subjects include invasive species, snakes and frogs.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

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May 11, 2009 -- Join the "Do One Thing for Wildlife" campaign and you'll help the territory's animals, said Renata Platenberg, wildlife biologist in the Fish and Wildlife Division of the Planning and Natural Resources Department.
"It's a program to engage people in the local environment," she said Monday.
Platenberg hatched the local version of the "Do One Thing for Wildlife" campaign after hearing about it on television. For now the campaign has no funding, so she puts out an email newsletter with tips on helping wildlife.
Small efforts, such as putting sugar out for sugarbirds and hummingbirds, helps with their food supply, but Platenberg said that more ambitious folks can tackle such projects as building log piles in their gardens to provide a habitat for lizards.
The first newsletter came out in February, and Platenberg said she's heard from many residents since then about what they do to help wildlife.
The May newsletter focuses on "Sensational Sea Turtles." In addition to lots of information about the green, leatherback and hawksbill turtles that call the territory home, Platenberg provides tips on how to protect them and their habitat.
Start by keeping plastic out of the ocean so sea turtles don't eat it. Floating plastic bags look like the jelly fish that sea turtles eat. When the plastic gets stuck in their intestines, they can starve to death.
"It's a slow death," she said.
Platenberg asks readers to take plastic garbage home from the beach, ensure that balloons taken to the beach don't stay there and carry goods in reusable shopping bags instead of plastic.
Additionally, the newsletter points out that fires lit on the beach can cook turtle eggs buried in the sand. To make sure this doesn't happen, she suggests getting a fire permit from V.I. Fire Services.
"And don't drive on the beach," she said, ticking off a suggestion that prevents eggs from getting crushed.
While the driving tip didn't make the newsletter, Platenberg's other newsletter tips include reducing lighting that turtles can see from the beach because it interferes with their return to the sea.
"Turtles use the light of the moon to tell them how to get back to the sea," and lights on the beach confuse them, she said.
Platenberg suggested planting grass on bare patches of land to reduce sediment washing into the ocean and smothering the reefs and seagrass. The turtles live on the reefs and eat the seagrass, she said.
Platenberg would like people to use biodegradable sunscreen, because a study at Trunk Bay, St. John, showed that chemicals in regular sunscreen contribute to coral bleaching. But she said she can't find any for sale on St. Thomas.
Email Platenberg for the May issue of "Do One Thing for Wildlife" and to get on the email list for future issues.
See previous issues by clicking here. Subjects include invasive species, snakes and frogs.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.