AMITW plans to tag, release sea turtle, take part in race

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Amie, a loggerhead sea turtle was tagged and released June 23, 2015, on Coquina Beach in Bra- denton Beach. Islander File Photo

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring is partnering with the Sea Turtle Conser- vancy to tag and release a nesting female loggerhead sea turtle.

The tagging is part of the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s 10th annual Tour de Turtles. As part of the tour, sea turtles will be tagged and released from beaches in Costa Rica, Panama, Nevis and Florida. The turtles then compete in a “marathon” to see which turtle swims the farthest during the three-month review.

The turtle’s migration will be tracked using satel- lite telemetry.

“Tagging turtles is very expensive and not some- thing this little hometown nonpro t group will be able to do very often,” AMITW executive director Suzi Fox said June 7. “The information that comes from watch- ing where she goes is priceless data for the island.”

The island’s turtle will be named Eliza Ann, according to Fox.

AMITW volunteers will assist Sea Turtle Conser- vancy representatives in tagging the sea turtle that has nested, then release the animal to the Gulf of Mexico at dawn, Fox said.

The release is planned for the week of June 19.

The plan is for volunteers to monitor a stretch of beach on the island overnight in order to locate a nest- ing female.

“We’ll be waiting in a couple of spots where we think one of the girls will be more likely to emerge,” Fox said.

Fox said the turtle’s safety is the most important factor.

“We want her to be kept calm during the process, so she can safely resume her journey when she’s been tagged,” Fox said June 6.

Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club, 5325 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, and Mainsail Beach Inn, 101 66th St., Holmes Beach, a community partner with AMITW, is sponsoring AMITW’s participation in Tour de Turtles, providing themed T-shirts for Waterline/ Mainsail representatives and AMITW volunteers.

“We are so excited to be a part of this,” Waterline general manager Sandy Zinck said June 8. “We’ve chosen AMITW as our community partner and are very focused on assisting Suzi and her team with continuing education for our guests.”

In 2015, AMITW participated in the Tour de Tur- tles, nishing in last place with Amie, a loggerhead sea turtle tagged June 23, 2015, at Coquina Beach. The transmitter on Amie was lost Dec. 15, 2015.

Before losing the tracking device, Amie traveled 992 miles in the Gulf.

For more information about the Tour de Turtles and, assuming the tagging operation is a success, to track Eliza Ann, visit conserveturtles.org.

For more information on the sea turtle habitat, or to report a sick, injured or dead sea turtle, contact Fox at suzilfox@gmail.com or 941-778-5638.

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