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Vol. 15 No. 4 - November 19, 2014

TURTLES

Jumping the gun caused disoriented turtle nest

Carol Whitmore

CINDY LANE | SUN

From left in foreground, Pete Gross,
Ralph Course and Fran Krammer
excavated the disoriented nest in
Holmes Beach to see if any
turtles survived.

HOLMES BEACH – “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” applies to turtles, too.

The third best sea turtle nesting season in Anna Maria Island’s history turned sour at the 11th hour when the last nest of the season was disoriented by beachfront property owners who turned their lights on before the season was over on Oct. 31, said Suzi Fox of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.

Fox hopes to launch a billboard campaign on Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road between May 1 and Oct. 31 next year informing people of the turtle laws regarding lighting and removing beach furniture at night.

“A hundred people can do fine, but all it takes is one” to kill a nest full of hatchlings, she said.

“The very last turtle off our beach should not be treated any less than the first one. We hope that people will leave their lights off all year and take their things in from the beach all year.”

Besides complying with turtle ordinances in all three Island cities, keeping lights off, including flashlights, also allows people to enjoy stargazing on the beach, she said.

Another nest that was thought to be “a dud” produced 14 turtles, providing some comfort to turtle volunteers, although the average this year was 82 hatchlings per nest.

Turtle Watch volunteers were pleased that the 18,257 hatchlings that made it to the Gulf this year is almost twice the 15-year average, she said, especially since they hatched from fewer nests than last year – 260 this year compared to 369 last year. The 15-year average is 178 nests per year.

Nature lessons from Turtle Watch

Carol Whitmore

Students look at a shell from a sea turtle during
the Turtle Watch lecture.

tOM VAUGHT | SUN

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch volunteers brought their educational material to the fifth graders at Anna Maria Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 14. Volunteer Mary Lechleidner taught the students about how sea turtles emerge from the Gulf and nest on the beach. The majority of those turtles are loggerheads, who nest on the same island every time and their surviving offspring also return to the same spot to nest.

Lechleidner also brought the group’s mock nest, which shows where the mother lays the eggs after she digs a hole using her fins. The kids got to pull out fake eggs and Lechleidner showed them some turtle hatchlings that died in the nest and were preserved by volunteers.

The students saw a skull of a sea turtle and a giant shell, which was lighter than most of the kids thought it would be.

These courses about sea life and the beach are part of a program provided by a grant that was obtained by volunteer Christine Callahan.

Nesting news

Sea turtles

Nests laid: 260

False crawls: 283

Nests hatched: 222

Hatchlings to Gulf: 18,278

Nest disorientations: 51

Black skimmers

Nests laid: 225

Least terns

Nests laid: 67

Snowy plovers

Nests laid: 5

Source: Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring

 

 

 


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