The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 39 - June 18, 2008

TURTLES

History-making nest at De Soto Park

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO LeGore, left, and Section Coordinator Susan Camp check to
make sure the turtle really laid her eggs and didn’t just make a false crawl.

For the second straight year, there’s a turtle nest on the shoreline of De Soto National Memorial Park.

"Rangers called me over the weekend to let me know that there had been signs of a turtle crawl," said Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox. "We went over to check things out, and sure enough, there was a nest there."

Fox said there was a nest at nearly the same spot last year, and she’s thrilled that there’s another nest this year.

The nest is along the Manatee River shoreline, Last year’s nest failed to hatch, probably because the eggs got too wet. The Manatee is a tidal river. There’s not much sandy beach along the shore, so high tides may very well have intruded on the nest too much, according to Fox.

She said she this nest was more than 24 hours old, so state guidelines dictate that it couldn’t be moved to higher ground.

"Also, we don’t know much about the habitat there, so we don’t have enough information to talk to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission to make recommendations," Fox said.

AMITW will put together a plan for a survey of the area, according to Fox, including checking out the shoreline and a bit of the immediate upland area.

"We’ll also probably make a boat trip up the river so we can get an idea of the shoreline from that side," Fox said.

AMITW volunteer, Ray Dalton lives in the area, according to Fox, and he’ll be in charge of monitoring the nest.

"We’ll also put together a training program for the rangers and maybe generate some literature that the rangers can hand out to visitors," Fox said. "I just think that it’s wonderful that there are enough people who know about turtles to spot the signs of nesting there for the second year in a row."

Fox said there may have been nesting there for years, but with the public becoming more and more educated and aware of turtle nesting and other parts of the environment, people know what to look for.

The park superintendent said the entire park staff is happy about the nest.

"We’re excited that now for two years in a row we have had nesting, Superintendent Scott Pardue said. "Especially after last year’s nest didn’t hatch. Maybe we’ll actually have hatchlings this year."

The superintendent also noted that just like with last year’s nest spotting, an early morning visitor who was walking the trails in the park reported this one.

"As I understand it, this person actually saw the turtle go back in the water with this nest," he said. "And it was after sunrise."
Pardue said his staff is looking forward to working with AMITW and to having the training.


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