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Date of Issue: May 13, 2009

Loggerheads most common on AMI

A loggerhead sea turtle, the turtle most common to Anna Maria Islandís coast. Islander Photo: Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
A Kemp's ridley turtle, her eggs and researchers monitoring the nest. Islander Photo: Courtesy FWS
A green sea turtle. Islander Photo: Courtesy FWS
A hawksbill turtle. Islander Photo: Courtesy NOAA
An olive ridley. Islander Photo: Courtesy NOAA

Sea turtle nesting season began May 1 with lights going dim at night along the shore, and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch volunteers walking the beach at sunrise looking for turtle nests.

AMITW, as of The Islander deadline, had identified one nest.

The loggerhead is the most common sea turtle on Anna Maria Island beaches. The turtle is characterized by a large head with blunt jaws. The carapace and flippers are a reddish-brown color; the plastron is yellow. Adults grow to an average weight of about 200 pounds. The species feeds on mollusks, crustaceans, fish, and other marine animals.

Five other sea turtles are found in U.S. waters or nest on U.S. beaches, all of them designated as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Endangered status means a species is considered in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range; threatened means it is likely to become endangered.

Green, leatherback and hawksbill turtles regularly nest on beaches within the United States and depend upon U.S. coastal waters for foraging and migratory habitat.

The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle occasionally nests in the United States. It is dependent on the shallow coastal habitats of the U.S. east coast and the Gulf of Mexico for foraging and developmental habitat.

The Olive Ridley sea turtle does not nest in the United States, but during feeding migrations, Olive Ridley turtles nesting in the Pacific Ocean may disperse into waters of the southwestern United States.