Debby Doesn’t Curtail Record Setting Turtle Nesting Season

So far, a record-setting 196 loggerhead turtle nest sites are documented this season with a few weeks to go, according to Clearwater Marine Aquarium officials.

Mike Anderson doesn’t have a reason for it.

The sea turtle nesting season started early and kept going, he said. 

As it turns out, it was also at a record setting pace, as officials have documented 196 loggerhead turtle nests along the 26 miles of Pinellas County beaches they monitor.

“We could still get some more nests before its over,” said Anderson, who heads the sea turtle nesting program for the aquarium. “We still have a couple more weeks for them to come up and nest.”

Nesting numbers had been pretty steady the last few years. Anderson said the increased activity this year could be attributed to a combination of things, including decades of conservation work and no significant red tide bloom. Anderson said nesting numbers are up all along the coast of Florida.

There usually can be up to 120 nests made along beaches in the Tampa Bay area from May 1 to Oct. 31. Already there were that many nests through June before Tropical Debby .

Anderson said initially they thought about 97 nests were lost because of Debby. Some of those nests turned out to be washed over but not completely washed out.

The first nest of the season to hatch was nest No. 5, which was thought to be washed out. However, of the 125 eggs laid in it, only 13 hatched. The effects of Debby will not be known until the end of the nesting season.

“We’re just about to get into the peak of our hatching season,” Anderson said.

Anderson said there are about 80 nests along the beaches currently and the season is not yet over. About 17 of the nests have hatched so far.

About 100 volunteers monitor Pinellas beaches during the sea turtle nesting season, which started May 1. Nests are staked off and later watched as the hatchlings make their way to the water by moonlight.

If you find a turtle nest on the beach don’t disturb it. If it is unmarked, call the at 727-441-1790. Check.

Turtle nesting over the last decade:

Year Number of Nests 2011 89 2010 119 2009 138 2008 108 2007 38 2006 115 2005 105 2004 104 2003* 195 2002 170

*previous record season

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