Visitors witness sea turtle nesting in Anna Maria

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People watch June 28 as a loggerhead emerges from the Gulf of Mexico to nest on the beach near Elm Avenue in Anna Maria. It was a rare event, as sea turtles usually nest at night. Islander Photos: Courtesy Ryan Bucher
Avery Bucher, 15, left, Ella Bucher, 13, and Eli Bucher, 10, of Fishers, Indiana, stand next to a loggerhead nest June 28 on the beach near Elm Avenue in Anna Maria. Earlier that morning, the Buchers watched a loggerhead emerge from the Gulf of Mexico, dig the nest, deposit its eggs and return to the water.
A group of beachgoers watches June 28 as a female loggerhead digs the hole in the sand for its nest near Elm Avenue in Anna Maria.

“Where we live, we see a lot of deer, cows and horses — no ocean — so this is really exciting for us,” Ryan Bucher, a visitor to Anna Maria from Fishers, Indiana, said June 28 after watching a female loggerhead nest on the beach.

Bucher, his wife Heather and their three children were taking a beach walk June 28, when Bucher’s daughter Avery, 15, saw the sea turtle emerge from the Gulf of Mexico near Elm Avenue in Anna Maria.

Female sea turtles, which only leave the water to nest, usually nest at night. So, a daytime nester is rare.

“Avery just had this look on her face and she said, ‘Look!’ so we all turned and saw this huge mama turtle coming out of the water,” Bucher said. His other children, Ella, 13 and Eli, 10, also witnessed the event.

The family spent 10 summers in Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island, where they participated in a sea turtle patrol, but never saw a turtle.

Bucher said it was great to see the excitement of the Anna Maria Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring volunteers who were there as the turtle nested.

“It was really awesome to see the joy on the faces of the turtle watch folks,” Bucher said. “They usually only see the nests, and this time they got to see the turtle.”

According to Bucher, there was trash next to where the turtle nested, which he said “really drove home” the importance of keeping the beach clean.

AMITW executive director Suzi Fox said she was “thrilled this family had the amazing experience of seeing the turtle nest” and she allowed them to adopt the nest.

She said the adoption program had closed for 2018 because nesting numbers started to drop off, but she wanted the family to have the honor.

“Nothing makes me happier than seeing people who respect and value the amazing wildlife here on our island,” Fox said. “This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for this family.”

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