The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 44 - August 15, 2012


BeachHouse popular with turtles

Carol Whitmore

SUBMITTED | Turtle Watch
A sea turtle nest hatched from the sand parking lot
at the BeachHouse restaurant last week; most did not survive.

BRADENTON BEACH – A surprise turtle nest hatched recently at the BeachHouse restaurant, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Director Suzi Fox.

Surprise nests are nests that are undiscovered, often because it rained after they were laid, obscuring tracks from Turtle Watch volunteers who look for tracks each morning on the beach.

The nest hatched on a high ridge of sand on top of the rocks that protect the BeachHouse’s paved parking lot from the Gulf of Mexico, which means the mother turtle must have crawled over the steep rocks to lay her nest – quite a feat, Fox said.

Volunteers scoured the cracks in the rocks looking for stragglers that might have fallen and become entrapped, but none were found, she said.

Bright lights at two residences across Gulf Drive from the restaurant disoriented some of the hatchlings, eight of which were found dead in the street, but the rest likely made it to the Gulf, she said.

Another nest that had been identified before June’s Tropical Storm Debby swept away the stakes that marked it has hatched near the restaurant’s sand parking lot, but did not fare so well, she said.

Of 83 hatchlings, more than 50 are unaccounted for. Eight were found dead in a storm drain, where Fox guesses many of the hatchlings wound up, eventually being spit out in the bay.

“I don’t think anything made it to the water alive,” she said, adding that street lights and lights from Oma’s restaurant and Circle K drew the hatchlings away from the Gulf of Mexico.

“If we had known where the nests were, we could have put cages over the top of them” to keep the hatchlings from wandering toward the lights, she said.

More nests could hatch in the area, but there’s no way to know for sure because Turtle Watch volunteers couldn’t monitor during the three days of Debby and a few days afterwards, when high seas obscured tracks, Fox said.

“We know that nests came in and we don’t know where they are,” she said, estimating that beginning this week, some will begin hatching..

Nesting news

Nests laid: 349*
False crawls: 336
Nests hatched: 15
Hatchlings to the sea: 840
Nest disorientations: 2

*This record number includes all nests laid since the start of turtle season on May 1. The previous record was 244 nests in 1999. But in late June, Tropical Storm Debby destroyed an unknown number of nests that can’t be identified until their hatch dates have passed. Since Debby, 170 nests have been laid.

Source: Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring



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