As Tropical Storm Hermine churned through the Gulf of Mexico, tides washed out more than 100 sea turtle nests on Longboat Key.
This year was a record one in terms of the number of nests laid, hitting 4,447, on Mote-monitored beaches that run from Longboat through Venice. When the storm hit, 1,700 had yet to hatch.
Following the storm, 686 were labeled “total washouts” meaning they are unlikely to produce any hatchlings. Of the total washouts, 111 were on Longboat Key, 43 were on Lido Key, 94 on Siesta Key, 370 on Casey Key and 68 on Venice. Some nests were declared as total washouts because their marking stakes were washed away, therefore causing nests to go unfound. Because some nests might be hidden, some areas might still be home to viable nests.
Sixty-six nests were found in standing water and are not likely to produce any hatchlings. 400 nests experienced accretion, meaning more sand was piled on top of the nest. If the water drains from the sand, a nest that is accreted has a chance to hatch.
“The bottom line is: we lost some nests to nature, and yet we may have hatches from areas without stakes, so we encourage everyone visiting, working or living along our beaches to be on the lookout and continue to be turtle-friendly until the end of nesting season, Oct. 31, even if you see a few or no marked nests in your area,” senior biologist with the Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, Kristen Mazzarella, said in a statement from Mote.
As of Mote’s most recent weekly update on Sept. 17, nesting has slowed down. Only a couple nests were laid locally during the last two weeks. Mote scientists expect to have final nest counts when the season ends on Oct. 31.