So far this season sea turtles have been nesting on Florida’s southwest coast beaches in record numbers. Expectations were high for a very successful nesting season. The great news was being reported on Sanibel, Naples beaches, Anna Maria Island beaches, and just about every beach in southwest Florida.
Unfortunately there is a fly in the soup this year, and the fly is named Debby. Tropical storm Debby covered all of southwest Florida’s beaches with sea water and heavy surf, drowning many nests and washing others away.
Suzi Fox of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch said that more than 100 turtle nests are so far unaccounted for and that they are unable to determine exactly how many nests were lost. But on the bright side, now that the storm is past: “When the sea lies down, we’re going to get a huge bunch of nesting girls needing to lay those eggs,” said Fox. “They’re going to want to do that everywhere.” So it could still turn out to be a good year for sea turtles. In fact, as of Thursday, June 28th, fifteen new turtle nests have already been recorded.
Unfortunately, sea turtles are not the only wildlife casualty on the Gulf beaches.
The storm took 355 black skimmer nests (a [bird] species of special concern), 15 least tern nests and four snowy plover nests (both threatened species) due to rain inundating the nesting area, said Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Director Suzi Fox.
This storm was devastating to nearly all of the shorebird nesting areas on Florida’s Gulf coast. We can hope that the birds will try to nest again before the end of the season.
Florida Fish & Wildlife publishes the numbers of sea turtles nesting on Florida beaches between 1989 and 2011 and displays the info in easy to read graphs.