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Date of Issue: May 13, 2009

AMITW reports season's first turtle nest

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch members measure the length of a female loggerhead's track from the waterline to the nest.

Fred Mack was in a giving mood May 8, feeling like a proud papa.

“I should pass around cigars,” said the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch walker as he stood beside the first loggerhead turtle nest located on the Island in the 2009 season, which began May 1.

Mack, wife Marge and Bobby Kappenmacher were walking along the shore in Holmes Beach near the Martinique when they came across the distinctive tractor-like tracks left by a female loggerhead.

“We had just started the walk,” said Mack, who has volunteered with AMITW for nine years. One year he found four nests in one day, but most years he finds one or two nests throughout the season.

The nest he found May 8 was his first “first nest of the season.”

“I saw the water temperature last night was 82 and so I was hoping,” said Marge Mack, who often walks with her husband on his beach patrols.

The nest is located in AMITW’s section four, where Bud Edgren coordinates activity.

On Friday morning, with a crowd of AMITW members and beachwalkers growing, Edgren used his hands to dig into the sand to verify that the nest contained eggs.

“This is not very good for the manicure,” he joked.

AMITW executive director Suzi Fox assisted Edgren.

“Got ’em,” she said soon after starting to move sand from the center of the nest.

Kappenmacher, the Macks and a number of curious beachgoers stepped forward to peer into the nest to see two eggs dusted with sand. The eggs were just at the top of the nest, which could contain as many as 100 eggs, Edgren said.

“I think I’ll give Fred a raise,” he added cheerfully. Other AMITW coordinators from other sections had arrived to see the nest and to congratulate Mack and Edgren.

The AMITW team then placed stakes to mark off the nest, as well as stakes to mark off the crawl that AMITW’s newest walkers were asked to visit and study.

Measurements also were taken, including the length of the crawl from the waterline to the nest and the distance of the nest from the dunes.

“We’re striving for accuracy,” said Fox, noting that the turtle crawled 72 feet from the waterline to nest.

Fox also made a calculation, determining that the due date for the eggs to hatch is July 1.

“Just before the Fourth of July, that’s peachy,” she said.


Nesting by the numbers

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch reported one loggerhead sea turtle nest on the beach as of May 8.AMITW reported no false crawls.

Nesting season continues through October, with the first hatchlings due about July 1.