The break-of-dawn beach walks hold few surprises these days for Coastal Wildlife Club monitors.
Nesting is all but done and the last report of the season is all but etched in sandstone at this point.
But what a year it's been.
Sea turtle nesting numbers in Southwest Florida will be tough to top in ensuing seasons as a record 3,547 were identified by CWC monitors in 2012. About 3,000 volunteers monitor 800 miles of Florida's nesting beaches, including more than 140 volunteers covering sandy stretches from South Venice to Boca Grande Pass.
The record number of clutches laid as of Sept. 7 comes to 391 more than the previous 1998 record of 3,156.
Gasparilla Island fell short of its first 400-nest season but its nest count of 392 is 91 nests and 30 percent ahead of the 301 recorded the same time a year ago.
The CWC monitors Gasparilla Island, Manasota Key and Little Gasparilla Island beaches where nesting is up 1,029 clutches and 41 percent from 2,518 a year ago. ?
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.