Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch is a 28-year-old organization of volunteers who have followed the latest accepted methods for protecting the nests of sea turtles on this 7-mile-long island. Years ago, these methods involved removing all the eggs from the beach so they could hatch in total safety. In more recent years the scientific community has realized that all aspects of the turtles’ natural experience are important, and there now is much less human intervention. Eggs are not relocated unless absolutely necessary, and, even then, it is to another location under the sand, near the original nest.
Gulf beaches, and even some on the bay side, are monitored. This island is unusual in having sea turtle activity on the bay side; nests are found in the areas of the piers of the city of Anna Maria. The efforts and practices of AMITW are coordinated with county, state and federal efforts. Nearby Mote Marine Laboratory acts as an additional information resource and, occasionally, a destination for rescued sea turtles in need of medical attention.
Five species of sea turtle are active around Anna Maria Island, but almost all the nests here are loggerhead turtles. This year is unusual in that there have been two nests of green turtles.