Fireworks bring out turtlesFrom the July 7, 2010 Issue
Mate celebrated an early Independence Day on
Friday as Mote Marine intern Brittany Childs released
the juvenile loggerhead sea turtle at Coquina
Bayside Park. SUN PHOTOS/CINDY LANE
True to form, loggerhead sea turtles nested on Anna Maria Island beaches on the Fourth of July in higher numbers than other nights of the six-month turtle season.
Rain, thunder and lightning seem to prompt sea turtles to nest, said Suzi Fox of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.
On Sunday night, July 4, nature provided the rain and the Sandbar restaurant provided the thunder and lightning in the form of fireworks, along with several unlicensed fireworks displays from Bradenton Beach to Anna Maria.
By Monday morning, turtles had set a new record, with five new nests and four false crawls, tracks that indicate that turtles have come ashore but returned to the sea before nesting, sometimes because of litter, furniture and other human distractions.
“It’s the highest on the Island in a night so far,” Fox said, adding that judging by the light raindrop impressions on the tracks and the fact that some of the eggs were still warm when the nests were discovered by volunteers on Monday morning, the nests looked like they were dug just before dawn.
During the fireworks displays, volunteers guarded the bird nesting areas at the north end of Anna Maria, about eight blocks from the Sandbar.
While people accidentally ran into some stakes that mark off the nesting areas, no incidents were reported, Fox said.
A bumper crop of black skimmer chicks is learning to fly in the area, and least terns are lingering also, she said.
On Monday morning, volunteers cleaned fireworks litter off the beaches that could harm turtles and birds.