Tropical Storm Debby’s arrival to Anna Maria Island June 25 brought a series of ups and downs for the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring staff and volunteers.
AMITW executive director Suzi Fox said the latest news is good.
“We are back on track to break the nesting record,” said Fox. “Since the storm ended, we have had an average of seven nests a day, and we also found four nests that must have been laid during the storm.”
By July 6, 248 nests were documented, breaking the previous season record of 247 nests.
Fox estimated the island lost as many as 90 nests due to storm surge created by TS Debby, and each section of the nesting beach reported different circumstances.
“All sections seem to have fared a bit different,” she said. “Section 7 has a seawall that has shown up after 15 years. There is no nesting habitat between the water and the wall for a half mile. Section 2 (in Anna Maria) has actually accrued sand and Section 9 had loads of rocks.”
Rocks and seawalls previously covered with sand, either accrued or from past renourishments, reappeared in some locations.
Fox said some sections lost dunes, and some have added sand.
“We did lose many stakes and quite a few nests,” she said. “We won’t know the exact number of nests until after the original hatch date has passed and we are sure they are gone.”
Fox remains optimistic with the frenzy of nesting activity since the storm concluded.
“Our turtle girls are still nesting and making a great comeback,” she said. “We still have not seen a slowdown and we have another month of nesting.”
It was initially bad news for the black skimmers that nested before the storm arrived, but AMITW volunteer Glenn Wiseman reported the birds returned to their nesting site after the storm.
The nesting sites were marked and Wiseman said the skimmers resumed “their personal business.”