My new friend Fergy – Herald-Standard

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The lifestyle of turtles like this one, nicknamed “Fergy,” is threatened by new housing projects and other developments in Florida.

Jack Hughes

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Jack Hughes

Hi, my name is Fergy. I live in Florida near the Everglades on Marco Island.

Last winter I met this guy, Jack, who says he's from Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He was riding his bike and stopped for a little break because there was a bench near my den. Jack says he likes to come to Florida in the winter because we have such a mild and dry climate. He loves to ride his bike and hike in the Everglades.

Jack told me that winter in Pennsylvania is very different than here in Southwest Florida. He tried to explain to me about cold and snow and I had to admit that I have never experienced cold and snow. Even in winter, temperatures rarely drop below 40 degrees and snow is hard for me to understand. I know about rain because a few weeks ago we had over a foot of rain in one day and our den was filled with water.

When I was young, there were a number of wildfires a few years ago that forced us to leave our homes and seek shelter. Jack said that many people who come to Florida don't realize that fires can easily start in the winter when it's dry. This year is different because of all the rain.

Jack said the weather is changing in many areas, forcing both humans and animals to adapt and move out of harm's way. There is talk of many hurricanes forming in the Atlantic and Gulf this year, and not far away Hurricane Beryl caused great destruction.

In the winter, a lot of people come to Florida and it gets really crowded. More and more houses and developments are being built and our homes and our way of life are being threatened. Because we are near the Everglades, we have some protection, but there is very little open space for our burrows. So much of Florida is being built up and access to the ocean is becoming more and more difficult for us.

There are people who want to help us and when a new development threatens us, new homes have to be found and sometimes they even cordon off our nesting sites with that yellow tape to protect us during the mating season. I have a girlfriend and we are planning to have a family next season. Maybe Jack can meet my little ones when he visits us next winter.

Life is still pretty good here. We have a good climate and people are starting to help us move out of the danger zone. Perhaps with increased awareness people will be less inclined to continue building near the water, although I am concerned about the amount of construction.

Jack told me that recent winters have been mild where he lives and that Florida has become very expensive. However, I see no signs of things getting better. If the forecasts are correct and we get a lot of hurricanes this season, maybe people will start to think differently.

I hope so, but I like Jack and hope he comes to visit my new family next winter.

Anna Harden

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