Sea turtle nesting season remains in record form on and around Gasparilla Island.
Manasota Key sea turtle nesting topped 1,000 in just the first five weeks of the six-month nesting season. That pace will challenge the record 1998 season total of 3,156 nests if sustained.
The Coastal Wildlife Club reported the Gasparilla Island nest count of 156 as of June 8 was up 48.5 percent more than the 105 recorded the same time a year ago.
Loggerhead nesting is up 53 percent on Gasparilla Island in the first five weeks of the season.
"The turtles are keeping us busy - we love it!" said Norma Jean Zvosec of the Boca Grande CWC. "We had 20 new nests over the weekend."
The Coastal Wildlife Club covers Boca Grande, Manasota Key and Little Gasparilla Island where nesting is up 53 percent from 804 a year ago to 1,233 through June 8.
The huge increase comes in comparison with last year's strong laying season, which was one of the best in the last 20 years although it slowed midway through. The 2011 total of 2,528 nests at Manasota, Gasparilla and Little Gasparilla fell 628 nests short of the record.
False crawls, where a sea turtle emerges from the surf and returns to it without nesting, are up as well. False crawls are up 18 percent with 1,228 so far this season compared with 1,041 in this area at the same time a year ago.
About 3,000 people, mostly volunteers, monitor 800 miles of Florida's nesting beaches, including ore than 140 volunteers covering sandy stretches from South Venice to the Boca Grande Pass. Nesting season runs from May through August. Nests incubate 45 to 60 days.
All sea turtle species are considered threatened or endangered under state and federal laws with green turtles particularly rare.
To volunteer for the CVC, contact Grace Harvey of Boca Grande at (941) 964-5642.