Sea turtle romance was evident all around Gasparilla Island until Tropical Storm Debby blew in.
Now, a record amount of nesting could amount to few hatchlings after Debby's storm surge washed away the prospective youngsters and their future.
"Tropical Storm Debby was devastating to the sea turtle nests," said Norma Jean Zvosec of thee Coastal Wildlif Club. " All nests have been washed over with water. Some nests are buried under 18 inches of sand and a lot of seaweed, too. We're just starting to count to find what is left. It is so sad."
Many turtle nests on Gasparilla Island are feared ruined by water runover from Tropical Storm Debby.
Manasota Key-centric sea turtle nesting, including Gasparilla Island, neared 2,000 in just the first seven weeks of the six-month nesting season. That pace leaves it 1,158 nests and 37 percent short of the record 1998 season total of 3,156.
The Coastal Wildlife Club covers Boca Grande, Manasota Key and Little Gasparilla Island beaches every day where nesting is up 572 nests and 40 percent from 1,416 a year ago to 1,988 through June 22.
The CWC reported the Gasparilla Island nest count of 242 as of June 22 was up 52 percent more than the 159 recorded the same time a year ago.
To volunteer for the CVC, contact Grace Harvey of Boca Grande at (941) 964-5642.
"Nesting is still strong," said Wilma Katz of the Coastal Wildlife Club. "Let's hope it keeps on keeping on and all our beaches and islands exceed the 2011 season's final numbers by a lot."
Beaches monitored by Mote Marina Laboratory ranging from south Venice to the Manatee County line show nest numbers already exceeding 2011. Atlantic Coast monitors report high nesting as well.
The huge increase comes in comparison with last year's strong laying season, which was one of the best in the last 20 years. The 2011 total of 2,528 nests at Manasota, Gasparilla and Little Gasparilla fell 628 short of the record or about 20 percent.
False crawls, where a sea turtle emerges from the surf and returns to it without nesting, are up but less markedly. False crawls are up 14.5 percent with 2,287 so far this season compared with 1,995 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.