The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 49 - September 19, 2012


Green turtle sets record

Carol Whitmore

Glenn Wiseman
Nests on the beach are still plentiful although turtles
are hatching at an increased rate.

ANNA MARIA – A mother turtle stepped on shore last Friday night near the Fern Street access, dug a hole in the sand and deposited her eggs. Nothing unusual except she did so later in the turtle nesting season than has ever been recorded by Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, plus she was a green turtle and her nest was the unprecedented second green turtle nest of the season.

“In the entire history of Turtle Watch, there have been only three green turtle nests recorded and then we had another one this year and now there is a second one,” Fox said. “All eyes are on this nest.”

Fox attributes the Island’s healthy shoreline, which had to overcome extreme erosion from Tropical Storm Debby with the help of a later storm, Tropical Storm Isaac.

“More sand means more habitat,” she said. “What we lost in the past we regained when Isaac came up the Gulf.”

Fox said this nest might hatch during a holiday.

“The nest is expected to hatch as early as Nov. 9 and as late as Nov. 24, two days after Thanksgiving,” she said, adding the people living near there need to be on guard to make sure their lights don’t reach the beach.

“The night this nest was laid, another nest full of hatchlings got disoriented,” she said. “The city of Anna Maria got on the case and found the source of the lights that the turtles were following.”

Fox said the neighbors to this nest will have to be cautious.

“The law requires that lights be in compliance until Oct. 31, unless there is a late nest,” she said. “Then they have to comply until the nest hatches.”

Nesting news

Nests laid: 361
False crawls: 329
Nests hatched: 136
Hatchlings to the Gulf: 10,553
Nest disorientations: 15

*This record number includes all sea turtle nests laid since the start of the season on May 1 through Aug. 24. The previous record was 244 nests in 1999. 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, 181 nests have been laid.

Source: Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring

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