Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring volunteers were bracing during the past weekend for another potential weather impact on sea turtle nesting.
In late June, Tropical Storm Debby destroyed an estimated 60 nests on Anna Maria Island and 950 nests from Longboat Key to Venice, according to Mote Marine Laboratory.
Sea turtle researchers and volunteers were hopeful TS Isaac would not be as severe, but were bracing for full-scale recovery efforts should the storm have a bigger impact on the Gulf Coast than what was expected as of The Islander press deadline.
TS Isaac was expected to continue a northwest trek into the Gulf of Mexico and begin impacting the island with feeder bands by Aug. 26, with effects lasting through Aug. 28.
Forecasters at press time were predicting the storm to produce potentially heavy rain and high wind speeds within the bands, but storm surge was expected to be minimal.
That’s good news to the turtle groups, but no one was taking any chances.
AMITW executive director Suzi Fox shared a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission release with her volunteers Aug. 24 in anticipation of having to do recovery work post storm.
“Hang in there,” Fox told her anxious volunteers.
FWC reminded the public that sea turtle eggs might be found on the beach following a storm. Discovered eggs should be turned over to AMITW as soon as possible, but people are not encouraged to take it upon themselves to salvage a washed out nest.
Only state-permitted volunteers may do so under Florida and federal law. Those laws pertaining to marine life and threatened sea turtle protections remain in effect before, during and after a storm event.
Mote advised beachgoers to be on the lookout for washed out nests, but to report those findings to local sea turtle groups or authorities as soon as possible.
If you see a washed out nest or turtles in distress after the storm on Anna Maria Island, contact Fox at 941-778-5638.
By the numbers
Sea turtles by the numbers as of Aug. 24:
False crawls: 332
Hatched nests: 50
Hatchlings to the sea: 3,135