Sea turtle hatchling released after rescue from pool drain

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A loggerhead hatchling — named Will by rescuers and held in a red bucket — was found Aug. 1 in a pool drain at Gulf Sands condominium in Holmes Beach. Islander Photos: Courtesy Retha Robinette
Will Knight, 9, left, of the United Kingdom, Retha Robinette of Holmes Beach and Will Corr of Bradenton, pose poolside Aug. 1 at Gulf Sands condos in Holmes Beach where they rescued a hatchling sea turtle from a pool drain.

People with swimming pools are used to pulling wayward leaves and other detritus from drains.

However, hatchling loggerhead sea turtles — a threatened species — usually are not pool scupper fare on Anna Maria Island.

A loggerhead hatchling that disoriented from a nest was found by Will Knight, 9, a visitor from the U.K., in a pool drain at Gulf Sands condominiums in Holmes Beach.

Part-time condo resident Retha Robinette, who was at the pool when Knight found the hatchling, knew what to do.

She called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hotline and an FWC representative contacted Suzi Fox, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director, who sent Karen Norton, a permitted volunteer, to rescue the hatchling.

“I called FWC and gave them the information, because I knew from reading the paper we should not touch the hatchling,” Robinette wrote in an email to The Islander. “I received a call back instructing us to remove the turtle from the drain and place him (we named him Will) in a bucket with sand. Will Corr from Bradenton removed him from the drain and we placed him in the shade.”

According to Fox, the hatchling was released at sunset, when it would be less susceptible to predation — a snack for foraging birds.

“This is why we ask that people call FWC, who will contact us, because we know when and where it is safest for the hatchling to be released,” Fox said.

Robinette wrote that AMITW sent her photos and a video of Will’s release.

“We were thrilled!” she wrote. “I think this is a great illustration of the important work Suzi and her volunteers do for the island. Our condo has turtle-friendly lights and knowing we helped with the numbers for 2018 makes me proud.”

As of Aug. 12, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring reported 15,133 loggerhead hatchlings have made their way to the Gulf of Mexico from nests on island beaches in 2018.

To report sick, injured, entangled or dead sea turtles or shorebirds contact the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.

For more information about AMITW, contact Fox at suzilfox@gmail.com or 941-778-5638.

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