Sea turtles not slowed by Sally, season nearly done

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Cuteness factor: X10 A loggerhead hatchling leaves tiny tracks in the sand Sept. 10 as it reaches the water’s edge. The hatchling was found in its nest by turtle watch volunteers during an excavation and released to the Gulf of Mexico.
Birgit Kremer, AMITW volunteer, looks on Sept. 2 while volunteer Hans Duerr reaches into the nest cavity to collect data from a green sea turtle nest at the nest nursery in Anna Maria. Turtle watch volunteers excavate and document sea turtle nests 72 hours after hatching for federal, state and local agencies. Just the one green turtle nest was laid on Anna Maria Island as of Sept. 17, compared with 348 loggerhead nests. The volunteers found 106 hatched and 16 unhatched eggs. Islander Photos: Courtesy AMITW

Sea turtle season is almost over.

Luckily, Sally did not wash out the finish line as the hurricane moved north in the Gulf of Mexico and sent bands of rain over Anna Maria Island.

Thirty-four of 349 sea turtle nests remained to hatch as of Sept. 16 in a beach “nursery” near White Avenue and Peppertree Lane, near the Anna Maria/Holmes Beach boundary, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox.

Fox said Sept. 16 that nests yet to hatch were safe from high tides and flooding that some areas of the island experienced when Hurricane Sally passed AMI Sept. 12-14.

Nests laid in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach since season started in late April were relocated to Anna Maria to avoid being buried by the $17 million beach renourishment project. The sand replenishment started near 77th Street in Holmes Beach July 8 and will terminate at Longboat Pass sometime near the end of October, paralleling sea turtle season.

The team of sea turtle volunteers, which covers the beach by ATV looking for signs of nesting activity and escorting renourishment workers to ensure the beach construction does not interfere with nesting and hatching, is down to a small crew since nesting and hatching has slowed.

Fox said the volunteers spotted a false crawl Sept. 14 on the beach near 30th Street in Holmes Beach.

A false crawl happens when a mature female sea turtle crawls ashore to nest, then returns to the water without laying eggs.

“While we haven’t had any nests for a while, there is still sparse nesting going on,” Fox said. “We will still be monitoring until season ends Oct. 31.”

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

For more information on nesting season, contact AMITW executive director Suzi Fox at suzifox@gmail.com or 941-778-5638.