Turtle Season 2019 is fast approaching on Anna Maria Island. The official start date is May 1st and will last through October 31, 2019. It is that time of year when special beach rules are in place to protect the threatened sea turtles that are coming ashore to lay eggs and their babies.
Anna Maria Island on the Gulf of Mexico sees mostly the loggerhead sea turtle which is also found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. They are named for their oversized large log like head.
A female loggerhead sea turtle may travel thousands of miles to return to the beach where she hatched as a baby to lay her own eggs as an adult. This species has a low reproductive rate. The turtle reaches sexual maturity within 17–33 years and has a lifespan of 47–67 years. Females generally nests every two to three years. On average, they lay eggs four times in one nesting season with each nest containing up to 100 eggs.Hatchlings will appear after about 60 days and dig their way up through the sand toward the surface. They wait underneath the last layer of sand until nightfall to pop out and head toward the ocean. to avoid predators like raccoons, crabs and birds.
The three Anna Maria Island cities will monitor the compliance of all island residents strictly. Lighting inspections will begin the 1st week of May. All lights that are a direct point source of light visible from the beach from sunset to sunrise need to be turned off or shielded. Turtle friendly bulbs (including rope lighting) need to be installed. Mother turtles can get confused by the lights when they come ashore to nest which could result in a false crawl where the mothers are not staying to lay their eggs or even drop them in the water where they do not hatch. Also, when baby turtles are hatching during the night they depend on the moon light to guide them to the water. Other light sources can be distractions and can result in disorientation which is fatal for the hatchlings when reaching Gulf Drive instead of the Gulf of Mexico.
Don’t use flashlights, lanterns or camera flashes during the nighttime on the beach.
All beach furniture and related beach items must be removed from the beach and/or pulled back behind the frontal dune line from sunset to sunrise. Objects can deter sea turtles from nesting or become obstacles that can entangle them in those items. Turtles do not have a “reverse gear” and cannot free themselves.
Also, beach-goers should fill in holes that they dug in the sand before leaving the beach. Nesting turtles or hatchlings can get trapped, get distressed and cannot live long out of the water.
Keep your Distance
If you happen to spot a female turtle or hatchlings on the beaches keep your distance. Never touch a sea turtle – it is the law! The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission has a Wildlife Alert hotline at 1-888-404 FWCC in case you notice anything unusual.
This organization monitors the turtle nesting activities. Each morning volunteers walk the beach and watch for tracks and signs of new nests that are getting marked. After the hatchlings left the nest the shells are counted and recorded for state documentation. More information is available on the Island Turtle Watch website at islandturtlewatch.com.
Team Duncan members proudly participate in the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch program. Please call Duncan Vacation Rentals at 941 779 0304 for any Island related questions. Our knowledgeable stuff is looking forward to assisting you weather planing your next trip or some local tips for a great holiday experience on Anna Maria Island.