A discovery of a May 2 false crawl put Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring volunteers in a state of anticipation that the first nest could appear any day.
The much-awaited event was discovered on the morning of May 4 when AMITW beach walkers found a loggerhead trail on the beach, indicating the first nesting site of the season on Bean Point, Anna Maria.
According to AMITW executive director Suzi Fox, the May 2 discovery of a false crawl was an indicator that nesting was about to begin.
“We found just a small false crawl trail,” she said. “The waves had already washed away most of the trail, but there was enough of a trail to let us know sea turtles were on their way to the Island.”
While nesting season began May 1, Fox said a typical season would see the first nest much later in May, with the busiest nesting occurring in June.
With a warmer than usual winter keeping Gulf of Mexico waters warmer, earlier than normal nesting activity was not unexpected.
Fox moved her training schedule up by two weeks this year in anticipation of the early nesting, and the first sighting of the season went off without a hitch, she said.
For residents of the Island, it is a good reminder of personal responsibility during nesting season. Residents along the waterfront should begin closing curtains and blinds at night to shield lighting visible from the beach to prevent disorientation.
Visitors and residents alike should remember to steer clear from marked nesting sites, and while beachgoers are not supposed to walk on dunes, it is especially important during nesting season, as dunes attract nesting sea turtles.
It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the beaches clear of litter and obstructions, such as lawn furniture and canopies. Trash, fishing lines, plastics and cigarette butts can harm wildlife.