(TYBEE ISLAND, GA) The Ocean Plaza Beach Resort on Tybee Island is pleased to serve as Title Sponsor of the 7th annual Turtle Trot, a 5K beach run that benefits the Tybee Sea Turtle Project. This year’s run takes place Saturday, April 30 at 8:30 a.m. Immediately following the run, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center will deliver a rehabilitated sea turtle to Tybee Island, which will be released back into the ocean.

In addition to raising funds for the Tybee Sea Turtle Project, proceeds from the Turtle Trot benefit the maintenance of the loggerhead hatchling housed at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center.

During the months of May to October, loggerhead sea turtles nest on the beaches of Tybee Island. Sea Turtle Project volunteers check the beaches daily and protect the sites where the females have laid their eggs, ensuring that the hatchlings make their way safely to the sea.

“We at Ocean Plaza Beach Resort are very pleased to be this year’s title sponsor for the Turtle Trot 5K Beach Run,” says Harry Spirides, Ocean Plaza’s owner and Chief Executive Officer. “I admire the noble efforts of the Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project volunteers who annually volunteer hundreds of hours of their time patrolling the beach at dawn every day during turtle nesting season looking for loggerhead sea turtle nesting activity.”

Spirides, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer, says he is impressed with the way the volunteers use an elaborate geographical tracking, reporting, and communication system to protect sea turtles.

“I have noticed that the Sea Turtle Project volunteers conduct their operations in a manner similar to what we did in the Coast Guard,” he explains. “They employ a command and control organizational structure, utilize computers, communications, some intelligence collecting and analysis, surveillance, reconnaissance, and they save lives.”

Over the past couple years, the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort and Tybee Island Marine Science Center, which are located next door to one another, have developed a close symbiotic relationship.

“The Marine Science Center allows our hotel guests to visit their center and learn about coastal Georgia’s marine ecosystem and its inhabitants, and we at Ocean Plaza are happy to support the Marine Science Center by allowing them to use our conference center’s meeting rooms to host learning symposia for their students, and we also allow their visiting instructors and marine science experts to stay in our hotel, all free of charge,” Spirides says. “We look forward to continuing this relationship for many years to come.”

The Ocean Plaza Beach Resort has also taken steps to help protect sea turtles by turning off porch lights on the top three floors of its hotel buildings, thus reducing area illumination and providing the darkness necessary for nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings.

Registration for the Turtle Trot 5K Run is $20 for members of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and $25 for non-members. Those who pre-register by April 24 will receive a free T-shirt. Sign-in starts 7:30 a.m., followed by the run/walk at 8:30 a.m. and the sea turtle release around 10 a.m. For more information, please visit www.tybeemarinescience.org/turtle-trot

Whether it’s for weddings, business meetings, or family vacations, the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort offers a variety of packages and specials for customers to choose from. Ocean Plaza’s award-winning restaurant, the Dolphin Reef Oceanfront Restaurant and Bar, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Its menu offers a fusion of American, Southern, and Caribbean cuisine. There has been a resort hotel continuously operating on the Ocean Plaza Resort property for more than 120 years. The property is located on Tybee Island, about 20 minutes east of historic downtown Savannah. For more information on the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort, call (912) 786-7777, email info@oceanplaza.com or visit www.oceanplaza.com.

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