Three sea turtles crawled up on Gasparilla Island beaches to nest last week indicating the record 2012 rush is all but over.
"Loggerhead nesting has slowed way down," said Wilma Katz of the Coastal Wildlife Club in her weekly report. "Hatching, though, is in full swing. These are basically all nests documented after Tropical Storm Debby."
A rare green turtle nest on Gasparilla Island survived TS Debby intact and has reached hatching maturity.
A loggerhead sea turtle track on Manasota Beach. Note the flipper marks on each side of the heavy body, which makes a smooth middle track.
"The storm did not wash it away," said Norma Jean Zvosec of the Boca Grande CWC patrol. "The nest is on the north end of the island, We have been having nests hatch nightly."
Tropical Storm Debby swamped more than 90 percent of nests laid before June 27 with nearly 10 inches of rain. Hundreds of nests were laid after the storm but the damage was done.
Despite predation from TS Debby, 2012 is the first year sea turtle nesting in Southwest Florida topped 3,500 since monitoring began in 1988. The Coastal Wildlife Club reports a record 3,516 clutches laid as of Aug. 17 - or 360 more than the previous 1998 record of 3,156.
To volunteer for the CWC, contact Grace Harvey of Boca Grande at (941) 964-5642.
The Coastal Wildlife Club reported a record Gasparilla Island nest count of 391, which is 31 percent and 93 nests ahead of the 298 recorded the same time a year ago.
The CWC monitors Gasparilla Island, Manasota Key and Little Gasparilla Island beaches where nesting is up 1,017 clutches and 41 percent from 2,499 a year ago to 3,516. ?
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.