Turtle watch documents loggerhead nesting cycle on AMI

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Kathy Doddridge, AMITW volunteer, left, explains sea turtle nesting season Oct. 6 to a group gathered to watch near the Gulf Drive Cafe in Bradenton Beach, as volunteers Ray Dalto and Lisa Bagwell collect data from a hatched loggerhead nest. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes
Amy Waterbury, AMITW volunteer, shows a video on her cellphone of a nesting sea turtle Oct. 6 to Laura Gabriel, 9, Yvonne Wendel, Moritz, 11, Claudia and Oliver Gabriel, all from Frankfurt, Germany. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes
The top image in this graphic shows a sea turtle nesting Aug. 5 on the beach near the Gulf Drive Cafe in Bradenton Beach, while the lower merged graphic is a hatchling that emerged Oct. 3 from the nest. Islander Photo: Courtesy AMITW/Amy Waterbury

Sea turtle season is almost over, although a handful of nests remain to hatch on Anna Maria Island.

“This is why we do what we do,” Kathy Doddridge, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring volunteer, said after watching a loggerhead sea turtle nest Aug. 5 near the Gulf Drive Cafe in Bradenton Beach and return to the Gulf of Mexico.

With a little technology and a little bit of luck, AMITW documented the complete cycle of the nest Doddridge watched being dug in the sand.

Doddridge, along with AMITW volunteer Amy Waterbury, were on the beach for their morning duties Aug. 5 when the loggerhead nested.

“It was an amazing sight,” Doddridge said.

Waterbury filmed the nesting process and the loggerhead’s return to the Gulf.

It was a welcome occasion, because sea turtles only come ashore to nest, and mostly at night.

The video can be found on youtube.com by searching “loggerhead nesting on Bradenton Beach.”

Doddridge is the AMITW coordinator for turtle watch section 7, which extends from 26th Street to Cortez Road in Bradenton Beach.

The nest was numbered 7/75 as the 75th documented nest in section 7.

Turtle watch volunteers walk 1-mile sections of beach after sunrise each morning May-October to check for overnight nesting and hatching activity. After a nest hatches, volunteers wait 72 hours to excavate and collect data from the nest, and release any live hatchlings that remain in the cavity.

Nest No. 7/75 hatched Oct. 3 and was excavated Oct. 6. It contained 101 hatched and four unhatched eggs but, when it hatched, 51 of the hatchlings disoriented toward a streetlight on Gulf Drive. They were rescued and later released to the Gulf.

Waterbury shot photos of the release.

“I think I can see a family resemblance,” she joked. “Seriously, though, it was awesome to see this nest come full-circle.”