Tag Archives: Turtle Watch Anna Maria

Collecting Turtle Nests Hatch Data

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.
Turtle nest staked out

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.

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Baby Sea Turtles Hatch

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.

Sea turtle nests and moonlight

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.

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Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch

Turtle TracksAnna Maria Island Turtle Watch holds its 2008 nesting season training for volunteers on April 15th.

Anyone who would like to walk the beach and report turtle tracks and nest activity are invited to volunteer and go through the training session, which will be held at the Holmes Beach City Hall.

Beach walkers will learn how to recognize and report turtle tracks of nesting females on an assigned section of the beach. The nests are recorded and staked off by the AMITW permit holders and observed during the incubation period until hatchling tracks are found.

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