The 2011 sea turtle nesting season has come to an end. The season started off with a bang. We had our first nest on May 5th which is pretty early for our area. We are not used to seeing our first nest until later in May. Also, early in the season we had a report of a turtle nesting on Indian Shores at around 11:30 am.
Photos taken by some out of town visitors showed that it was a Kemp’s Ridley nesting in our area, which has not happened since 2002. About two weeks later the same Kemp’s Ridley showed up again to nest on Clearwater Beach. Kemp’s Ridleys are the most endangered species of sea turtle; one reason for this is their daytime nesting behavior. When I received a call at 4:30 pm about a nesting turtle on Belleair Shore on June 29th I hurried out there and expected to see our Kemp’s Ridley one more time. When I arrived, I was surprised to find a slightly confused Loggerhead that did not want to wait until the sun went down before laying her eggs. Then, after a great start to the season, nesting activity slowed down quite a bit and we ended up with 89 nests for the season. Our first hatchlings emerged from their nest on May 30th and 86 babies made it to the water that night. The last nest hatched on October 4th with 95 babies making their way out to sea. We had a total of 5,974 hatchlings making it to the water with the help of many very hard working volunteers and interns. Thank you for all your help. I am already looking forward to next season.