It’s the time of year when sea turtle nests hatch and that means lots of work for Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch. Volunteers walk the beach daily to check the status of marked nests and for tracks of hatch-lings in the sand. The hatch-lings dig their way out from under the sand, usually during the night, and attracted by the moonlight over the water make their journey to the sea.
Three days after the nests have hatched, licensed personnel excavate the turtle nest site to collect data. By counting the empty shells the number of hatched turtles are recorded, along with unhatched, unfertilized eggs and ones that died in the hole. Sometimes a few left behind are retrieved out of the collapsed sand, protected from day-time predators, and re-released at night.