Researchers believe this could be a record high for turtle nest season

Nests washed away by storm replaced by more eggs

ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Fla. - Glenn Wiseman and his wife Claudia are on turtle watch, combing the beaches of Anna Maria Island for any nests that may have made it through Tropical Storm Debby.

"We can't do anything until we see exposed eggs and by that time it is usually too late," he said.

Two weeks ago, it was too late for some nests.

The Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch said it was able to rescue nearly 30 nests, but Debby's high surf, heavy rain and winds were too much for many nests to handle.

The waves washed many turtle nest markers out and now volunteers believe many nests are hidden.

"Some of the nests got washed over and the stakes were washed away. We are not sure if there are eggs down in certain places and we won't know that for sure until the eggs hatch. We have all of our volunteers monitoring every day for hatchlings," he said. 

After the storm cleared Wiseman said his group received a ray of hope.

"There were about 14 new nests laid. We usually get three to five nests a day. The girls must have been waiting out there since they had two or three days to wait and hang out. So when everything finally settled down they came out in mass and laid eggs," he said.

Since then, turtle nests have popped up all over the beach.

"It's not something you see every day and not something you are expecting to see ever. It's just a nice surprise and it's a happy time," said Island resident Kyle Bennett.

The group said nationwide conservation efforts dating back 30 years may have led to the unexpected spike in nests.

"It could be we might get more nests from after Debby than we had all last year," said Wiseman.

It is looking like that maybe the case. There are still five weeks left in turtle nesting season and at last count The Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch counted 250 nests, despite Debby's fury.

Last years count? Only 145.

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