Sea turtles nesting earlier than normal
Sea turtles have laid nearly as many nests on Anna Maria Island in the first seven weeks of the 2012 season as they did during the entire 26-week 2011 season.
As of Monday, June 18, sea turtles had laid 143 nests on the Island, compared to 145 nests in all of last year’s turtle season, according to Suzi Fox, of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.
Turtle season lasts from May 1 to Oct. 31. Nesting usually continues through the third week of July, she said, adding that about four weeks of nesting remains this year.
But while “the girls,” as she calls them, may have set a speed record, it doesn’t mean that it will be a record season by any means, Fox said.
Nesting has been below normal for several years, she said, adding that an average 200 nests a year is normal.
Last year, only 7,806 turtles hatched from 145 nests, according to Turtle Watch statistics.
The record for the Island is 244 nests, hatching 19,315 turtles, which happened in 1999.
By the end of this year’s season on Halloween, nesting may turn out to be no better than last year, she said, asking that people continue to be vigilant in complying with turtle laws, including turning off beachfront lights at night, closing drapes and blinds and taking everything off the beach at sunset.
Pull items back as far as possible from the Gulf, she said; last week, a sea turtle nested under a rental sailboat in Bradenton Beach that had been pulled all the way up to the dune line.