Jumping the gun caused disoriented turtle nest
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
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.