The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 48 - August 20, 2008

TURTLES

History made with DeSoto turtle nest

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY AMITW volunteer Susan Camp holds a live
hatchling found in the nest on the Manatee River at DeSoto National Memorial.

For the first time ever in Florida, a turtle nest laid on a river has hatched and resulted in live young.

The nest was discovered June 10 along the Manatee River at DeSoto National Memorial by some hikers.

Last week, the nest hatched, and 18 babies made it into the water.

"This is really exciting," said Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox, whose group has been monitoring the nest. "Last year, we had the first-ever documented river nest in the state laid here, but it got flooded too much and the eggs never hatched. So this is the time there are live hatchlings."

AMITW volunteers, including Morgan Larkin, 11, a veteran of Turtle Camp checked on the nest every day. It was Larkin who first made the report that hatchling tracks were visible leading from the nest to the river.

A check by AMITW permitted volunteers confirmed Larkin’s report.

The nest was excavated on Saturday, and three live hatchlings were found along with a number of unhatched eggs and enough shell remains to know for certain that 18 hatchlings made it out of the nest.

"This is way cool," said Seth Watters, 9. "I’m naming the three babies Seth II, Survivee and Wild One."

Seth suffers from lung disease, according to his mother, Sandra Watters, who owns property in Bradenton Beach. He loves sea turtles and anything to do with nature.

Disorientation

Members of a family having a reunion discovered a disorientation of an entire nest. Hatchlings from the nest were drawn to lights visible from the beach at the condo resort in north Bradenton Beach.

"We found all these turtles scrambling around in the hallway," said Christine Riedel, who was one of 21 family members staying at the resort. "We knew what to do because we’ve been coming here for 10 years. We know Turtle Tom (Van Ness) and he told us."

What Turtle Tom told the Riedel family group is that if you see hatchlings disoriented, you should grab any container, put some sand on the bottom and then put the hatchings into the bucket.

Then you call AMITW.

"They did exactly the right thing," Fox said. "It’s a miracle these people knew just what to do. It makes me feel good that education is making a difference."

The Riedels helped release the hatchlings into the water off Coquina Beach the next night at sundown.

Fox has filed a disorientation report with the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission and with the city of Bradenton Beach indicating that lights at the resort where the family was vacationing and at a condo complex across the street were out of compliance with sea turtle lighting regulations and appear to have caused the disorientation. Members of the Riedel family have agreed to return to the area if they are needed to testify about the situation.

Bradenton Beach Code Enforcement Officer Wendy Chabot confirmed that the city has received a copy of the report and is investigating.

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