By Lindsey Rogers
South Walton is coming together to get the word out about sea turtles, but instead of using words they’re using art.
Three local artists have dedicated their expertise to painting sea turtle sculptures. The three sea turtles have been spread across Gulf Place, showing the community’s dedication both to local arts and to protecting the endangered sea turtles that nest on nearby beaches.
Each turtle was painted according to the artist’s unique style.
David J. Hansel, who lives in Panama City Beach, took a more realistic approach. His turtle, which he named “Horace”, is located on the west end of Spires Lane.
Hansel modeled this sculpture off the sea turtle pictures he has painted in the past and kept to the traditional colors of the endangered species: green and brown.
Juan Francisco Adaro, who lives in Santa Rosa Beach, lacked no color in his sea turtle. His turtle, “Manuelita”, was named after a children’s song. The song describes a turtle who travels all around the world looking for love before realizing the love was where she first lived.
The bright and vibrant colors Adaro uses are hard to miss, and “Manuelita” can be found on the east end of Spires Lane.
The largest of the three turtles, “Miss Lucy”, was painted by Billie Gaffrey, an art teacher at Seaside Neighborhood School. This sculpture is covered in bright paint and rocks a funky vibe and big red lips. Miss Lucy is located between La Playa and Sunrise Coffee Co.
Sea turtle nesting season is May 1 through Oct. 31. During this season, local groups throughout South Walton stay busy raising awareness to protect sea turtles.
The South Walton Turtle Watch is a volunteer group that goes out and locates the endangered species’ nests and protects them. In addition, The Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles, a non-profit organization, promotes sea turtle conservation through awareness and education.
Lindsey Rogers is a summer intern with The 30A Company.