ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Fla. - It’s been a record-breaking sea turtle nesting season for more than one reason on Anna Maria Island.

  • Record number of nests on Manatee County beaches this year 
  • 2019 had record amount of turtle disorientations 
  • Nesting season ends October 31

With two weeks left in nesting season, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch has recorded 544 nests throughout the island. That breaks the previous record of 534 set in 2018. That means tens of thousands of hatchlings have made their way into gulf waters.

Nine of those nests were laid by Green Sea Turtles, which are a rare find on the island. The rest were Loggerhead Turtles, which commonly nest on area beaches.

"By them walking through this sand, it tells these hatchlings that this is home,” said Suzi Fox with Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch. “So when they come back to nest, they know that Anna Maria Island is home."  

The second record is one that Fox was hoping they wouldn’t break.

More disorientations were reported this season than ever before. Thursday morning marked the 60th time that turtle hatchlings had been drawn away from the water and toward the street due to some type of light.

“I would guess at this point that the hatchlings are deep in the bushes and we would never be able to find them,” Fox said. “A light was left on outside, or maybe a streetlight.”

Sea turtles can lose their way to the Gulf if they are distracted by lights from buildings, streetlights, flashlights, or even cell phone lights. Fox says she will speak with code enforcement who will likely investigate.

"We need to investigate it and see who it was and the city will help them make better choices on lighting,” she said.

Sea turtle nesting season officially ends on October 31.