Tarpon PTK members aid bird sanctuary

Five students stand on a beach holding clean-up buckets.
Seabird sanctuary entrance

In 2020, St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs Phi Theta Kappa chapter gave their time to help sea birds at the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Rocks Beach. St. Petersburg College Phi Theta Kappa members by working as animal rescue volunteers at the bird sanctuary.

The Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is a rehabilitation facility for injured and sick wild birds. Though they concentrate on seabirds, they never turn down any bird in distress. They have helped thousands of birds return to the wild, and those unable to be released live at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives.

The enclosures are kept natural and are large enough to keep the birds comfortable. In addition, there is a bird hospital on-site for veterinary care of the residents and incoming injured birds. The sanctuary is nonprofit and relies on volunteers and donations to keep the facility running.

The SPC volunteers did work that involved animal handling and enclosure cleaning to keep the seabirds safe and healthy. Our work led us to gain compassion for the rescued birds and appreciate the amount of work needed to maintain a facility like this.

While at the sanctuary, we were educated on the care of the seabirds, the rescue and rehabilitation that is performed, and the educational programs offered to inform the public of their mission. Due to their significant loss of volunteers to their workforce, there was a lot of cleaning to be done. We mostly concentrated on the pelican enclosures, because those are the largest enclosures – and the messiest. It was strenuous work, and the smell of dead fish is not for those with weak stomachs!

After cleaning the enclosures, we participated in a beach cleanup in front of the sanctuary, which enabled us to collect several buckets of trash that can be harmful not only to the sea birds, but all marine life.

Overall, volunteering at the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary gave our members nothing short of a rewarding feeling of accomplishment. It was great to be socially connected again since the pandemic and assist such an inspiring organization. We came away with a feeling of solidarity and empathy for the seabirds. In addition, we formed a relationship between Phi Theta Kappa and the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, which would welcome our engagement in future endeavors.

From this experience, we learned that this bird sanctuary is important to our community for its dedication to rescuing and rehabilitating Florida’s beautiful birds, and in the process, the education they provide to the public on why saving these birds is so necessary.

These birds are a crucial part of Florida’s ecosystem and other species rely on them, as well. These relationships impact the entire marine habitat. We should help these birds and do everything in our power to keep them thriving in Florida. Phi Theta Kappa is glad we could help and be part of such an important cause.

This piece was written by Alexis Roman, Vice President of Service for the Tarpon Springs Campus Phi Theta Kappa chapter.

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