After erasing a 25-year-old sea turtle nesting record, the flippered females rested.
Just a handful of new nests were found on Gasparilla Island during the week ended Aug. 4 but the heavy lifting has already been done.
The Coastal Wildlife Club volunteers reported a record 3,428 clutches as of Aug. 3 - or 272 more than the previous record laid in 1998 of 3,156.
Coastal Wildlife Club volunteers excavate nests to determine how many hatchlings matriculated.
2012 will go down as the most active for sea turtle nesting in Southwest Florida since monitoring began in 1988.
"It's great to enjoy and be energized by the current numbers," said Wilma Katz of the CWC.
The record number of sea turtle nests, however, will mostly come up barren. Tropical Storm Debby swamped more than 90 percent of nests laid before June 27 with nearly 10 inches of rain.
That doesn't diminish CWC appreciation of higher nesting numbers.
"Mature sea turtles, having survived a 25- to 30-year gauntlet of threats and now reproducing, are extremely valuable to the survival of their species," Katz said. "Mature sea turtles may produce thousands of hatchlings and maybe even tens of thousands.? The higher our nest counts, the higher the projections for future populations."
The Coastal Wildlife Club reported the latest Gasparilla Island nest count of 384 with just 11 added in the week. That's still 31 percent and 91 nests ahead of the 293 recorded the same time a year ago.
This year's high nesting numbers are helping offset losses from Tropical Storm Debby, which destroyed more than 1,000 nests.
Nesting season runs from May through August with most clutches laid in the first half of the season.
The CWC covers Gasparilla Island, Manasota Key and Little Gasparilla Island beaches where nesting is up 964 clutches and 39 percent from 2,464 a year ago to 3,428. ?
"With populations of endangered and threatened sea turtles in decline, higher counts are good," Katz said. "Higher counts trending consistently upward would be even better."
About 3,000 people, mostly volunteers, monitor 800 miles of Florida's nesting beaches, including more than 140 volunteers covering sandy stretches from South Venice to the Boca Grande Pass. 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.
This is the second-straight season of elevated sea turtle nesting after nearly two decades of significant declines. The 2011 season was one of the best in the last 20 years falling 628 short of the record.
It's also the second straight season Mother Nature has issued devastating challenges to the sea turtles with TS Debby in 2012 following on the heels of the deadly January cold snap in 2011. Add in the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and sea turtles have faced significant challenges three consecutive years.
To volunteer for the CWC, contact Grace Harvey of Boca Grande at (941) 964-5642.