■ BY SUE ERWIN
Due to the current beach renourishment project, Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association patrol members have relocated 15 nests – 12 between 2nd and 18th Street and three at the South End from Gasparilla Island State Park.
“They have been moved to a safe location, and we’ll continue to monitor nests in the renourishment area and relocate them as appropriate,” said Board member Mel Csank.
So far, 189 nests (3 green and the rest loggerhead) have been documented by patrol volunteers, and 293 false crawls have been reported. A false crawl occurs when a turtle makes its way onto the beach but doesn’t produce a nest.
The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) faces many threats both on land and in the water, and it is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Its distinctive crawl – and a nest that looks like a bomb crater – indicate that it is far more rare on the island than the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta). Typically there are fewer than 10 green turtle nests each season.
The organization now has a new supply trailer that is parked on Lafitte Street, near the ranger station.
“We’re grateful to our community for the financial support that allowed us to purchase and rehab the trailer, and to Gary Larson, who spearheaded the project and did the lion’s share of the work,” Csank said. “This trailer will help keep our stakes dry and our volunteers safe from ants and scorpions that like to hide in our stake pile.”
Association volunteers would like to remind you to be cognizant of your surroundings when visiting the beach. Sea turtle nesting season officially began on May 1, and it’s more important than ever to cover up holes and knock down sand castles when visiting the beach. Always dispose of any trash, and remember: no lights at night.
“We are being assisted by Don Pedro Island’s permit holder, Brenda Bossman, who has significant experience in relocations, which are quite a delicate and fragile process. The nest is taken apart egg by egg and placed in a bucket,” said Csank. “Then a new egg chamber is built farther down the beach, where it will not be impacted by the relocation.”
The eggs are then placed in the new chamber in exactly the sequence in which they were found in the original nest. During this process, the eggs cannot be rotated or turned from the original position they were found in. The information is then sent to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. These data help track the health and activities of the species.