ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Sea turtle hatchlings have broken the Anna Maria Island record set by the 2018 crop of local loggerheads, with 35,850 hatchlings so far this year.
The number, recorded last weekend by Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, exceeds the previous record of 35,788 hatchlings that made it to the Gulf of Mexico from the Island’s beaches in 2018, and there are more to come.
“It will continue to grow as there are nests to still hatch,” Turtle Watch volunteer Barbara Riskay said.
Turtle Watch breaks down nesting data into three geographical sections. The first, from the Longboat Key Bridge north to Manatee Beach, has had 17,167 hatchlings so far this year. The second, from Manatee Beach north to Bean Point, has had 17,805 hatchlings so far. The third, covering bayside beaches, has had 878 hatchlings so far this year.
The last time turtles set a record on AMI was in 2019, when turtle moms laid a record number of nests – 544. This year’s nesting tally is approaching that record, at 531 nests.
Turtle Watch also counts nests that were not laid, known as false crawls, identified by tracks left by nesting mothers that did not dig nests.
Sea turtle nesting season ends on Oct. 31.