Sea turtle with tracker lays 2nd nest on Anna Maria Island

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Tracking Eliza A screenshot taken July 3 shows Eliza Ann, the female loggerhead sea turtle wearing a satellite tracking device since June 20, returning to shore in Holmes Beach July 3 to nest a second time.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy LeAna Cudzillo used night-vision camera gear early July 3 to capture the loggerhead Eliza Ann — equipped with a tracking device — on her path to a nesting site near 77th Street in Holmes Beach. Islander Courtesy Photo

For the first time in its history, Anna Maria sea turtle watchers have “positive proof” of a loggerhead nesting twice in the same season on Anna Maria Island.

AMITW and the Sea Turtle Conservancy placed a tracking device on a sea turtle June 20 at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. That tracker showed July 3 the path taken by the turtle named Eliza Ann by AMITW, as she again journeyed ashore to nest in Holmes Beach.

The turtle’s name Eliza Ann, is derived from AMITW’s sponsor for a Sea Turtle Conservancy event entitled Tour de Turtles. The Waterline Resort and Marina, expected to open in August in Holmes Beach featuring Eliza Ann’s Coastal Kitchen restaurant, paid $5,000 to sponsor AMITW.

As part of the tour, sea turtles are tagged and released from beaches in Costa Rica, Panama, Nevis and Florida. The turtles then compete in a “marathon,” a competition for which turtle swims the most miles during the three-month “race.”

The turtle’s migration is tracked using satellite telemetry. Every time Eliza Ann raises her head above water, the antenna on her tracker sends a signal, letting conservancy research scientists — and visitors to the Tour de Turtles website — know her location.

On July 3, the website indicated Eliza Ann had returned to shore near 77th Street in Holmes Beach.

She may have chosen Coquina Beach and the beach near 77th Street for the darkness.

“Those are two of the darkest areas on the island,” Suzi Fox, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director, said July 5. “That is what she is searching for.”

Female sea turtles only come ashore to nest, and lights visible from the shoreline can distract them and lead to a failed nesting attempt — a false crawl.

Loggerhead sea turtles can nest up to eight times a season, but the average seasonal rate is three-five nests. Female turtles continue to nest so long as they are retaining sperm from the April mating season.

“We’ve never had positive proof that we’ve had a re-nester until we got this data,” Fox said. “The satellite tag is the only way we can know for sure. This is a historic moment for AMITW’s 35 years of data collection on the island.”

To track Eliza Ann, visit https://conserveturtles.org/trackingmap/?id=171.

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