Four new sea turtle nests on Gasparilla Island and just two on Little Gasparilla island during the week ended Aug. 10 shows the six-month season is all but over after a frenzied 14-week rush that resulted in a record year for clutch counts.
Manasota Key beaches received 44 new nests, which is its slowest week since the six-month season began May 1.
The focus now shifts to hatchling counts, which are the big mystery this season. Tropical Storm Debby swamped more than 90 percent of nests laid before June 27 with nearly 10 inches of rain. Even though many more nests were laid after the storm, the odds of survival remain stacked against the little hatchlings.
One of the hatchlings that survived TS Debby.
"Most of these will become lunch but not all," said Wilma Katz of the CWC. "We often say an estimated one in 1.000 will survive to reproductive age, and that may be optimistic. Clearly, huge numbers of hatchlings are necessary for species survival."
Huge numbers already define this season, which is barely halfway completed. 2012 is already cemented as the most active for sea turtle nesting in Southwest Florida since monitoring began in 1988. The Coastal Wildlife Club reports a record 3,478 clutches laid as of Aug. 10 - or 322 more than the previous 1998 record of 3,156.
The Coastal Wildlife Club reported a record Gasparilla Island nest count of 388, which is 32 percent and 94 nests ahead of the 294 recorded the same time a year ago.
The CWC monitors Gasparilla Island, Manasota Key and Little Gasparilla Island beaches where nesting is up 993 clutches and 40 percent from 2,485 a year ago to 3,478. ?
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.
All sea turtle species are considered threatened or endangered under state and federal laws with green turtles particularly rare.
To volunteer for the CWC, contact Grace Harvey of Boca Grande at (941) 964-5642.