Turtle Watch gets ready for season
HOLMES BEACH – Right on the tail of tourist season, turtle and bird nesting season is coming up, and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring volunteers gathered at CrossPointe Fellowship last week for an educational talk and to get organized.
Turtle season starts May 1 and runs through October each year, and last year there were a record number loggerhead turtle nests at 370 and a record number of rare green turtle nests at three.
Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox said the new sand from the renourishment project would likely provide good conditions for female turtles to come ashore, usually at night, dig a hole and drop their eggs.
Fox took over the group 20 years ago after the federal government got into a dispute with the group over digging up nests and transplanting the eggs.
Fox gave volunteers her list of golden rules:
• Never dig into a nest before your coordinator arrives;
• Don’t walk back on the road, stay on the beach in case you missed something;
• Start your walk early, but not before it’s light enough to see;
• Don’t walk on hatchling tracks;
• Never remove people’s goods on the beach, even if they are illegally there;
• Never walk in thunder or lightning;
• Never flag another section’s nest;
• Try to stay positive.
Fox also had a few rules regarding the beach:
• Don’t erase the wrack, the area of debris that includes items that washed ashore and provides protection and food for animals;
• Flag nests and if you run out of flags, call a coordinator;
• Don’t worry about illegal lights, you’re looking for nests.
Fox said last year’s record number of nests looks huge compared to some years.
“In 1982, we had 42 nests,” she said. “Of course, we hardly had a beach back then.”
When the group finds a nest, it puts stakes around it. One side will face to water and the other will face the land. Members must have emergency phone numbers, and the group no longer puts the expected date of hatching on the stakes.
As for the renourishment, Fox warned the volunteers to wear sneakers and don’t go barefoot in the new sand. She also said it looks like they might have to till the new beach because the pipes left large accumulations of rust in the sand.