The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 42 - July 9, 2008

TURTLES

Turtle nest numbers way up

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY The number of turtle nests on the Island
is up nearly 40 percent this year. Here, AMITW Director Suzi Fox laminates extra signs.

The number of sea turtle nests this summer is way up, not only on the Island, but also on the beaches immediately to our south and north, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox.

"We’re having a wonderful year," Fox said. "We have 99 nests so far. Last year at this time, we had 68 nests, and the year before, we had 66."

Fox said she doesn’t know why the numbers are up, but she’s full of praise for the AMITW volunteers who walk the beach each morning at dawn to check for signs of turtle nesting.

"They are doing excellent work," Fox said. "We have wonder-walkers out there."

Fox said that nests laid during the past week would hatch at the end of August.

"Pray that any storms are late this year, so these babies can hatch and get out to sea," she said.

Officer plays midwife

Meanwhile, an unidentified police officer on beach patrol July 3 had to calm and clear out a huge crowd that had gathered around a sea turtle that came ashore about 9 p.m. to lay her eggs.

"There was a huge mob around that turtle, but the officer was wonderful," said Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch section coordinator Betsy Lynch. "He was so calm and quiet, but he effectively got everyone back from the turtle so she could dig her nest. This was one determined turtle."

Lynch said the beach was crowded, and there were some fireworks around, but nothing really crazy.

"People behaved wonderfully," Lynch said. "They knew to stay well back from the turtle. The only problem was a young girl who took a picture with her cell phone. The flash went off, and that’s very bad for the turtles. But she didn’t know, and when we told her, she stopped immediately."

Neither Lynch nor officials at the Holmes Beach Police Department could identify the officer, however, as his description does not match either policeman on duty that night.

But the story ends well, regardless, as the turtle dug her nest, laid her eggs and then tossed sand over the eggs to cover them. With that done, she crawled back into the Gulf, according to Lynch.

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