By STEVE REILLY
ENGLEWOOD — Jamie Nothstine had a wish fulfilled Saturday evening. Nothstine and her husband, David, both emergency room nurses who work 12-hour night shifts, like to walk along the Gulf shoreline on Manasota Key to relax and de-stress.
The couple, who moved to Englewood from Illinois less than a year ago, walked the beach Saturday, just before sunset, when Jamie told David she’d would love to see baby sea turtles emerging from their nest.
Her wish came true.
Just north of the public Englewood Beach, Nothstine saw newly born sea turtles scurrying down the beach into the waves lapping the shoreline.
“That was like icing on the cake,” Jamie Nothstine said. She videoed the hatchlings but soon after left them alone, not wanting to disturb their instinctual drive to head out into the Gulf.
The experience, she said, taught her how delicate nature is.
Local sea turtle nesting is over its peak, but now is a time to be even more protective of the endangered turtles as their hatchlings emerge from their nests.
Coastal Wildlife Club sea turtle volunteers recently posted videos of a group of newly hatched sea turtles scampering off Manasota Key into Gulf.
“A good loggerhead sea turtle nesting season on Manasota Key is coming to a close,” the Coastal Wildlife Club reported on its Facebook page. The CWC oversees sea turtle nesting volunteers on Manasota Key.
What is really exciting about this season however is (green sea turtle nesting),” the CWC stated. “In just the past decade green nesting on Manasota Key has gone from low single digits to, dare we hope, over 300 by the time this season comes to a close.”
As of Aug. 16, the CWC volunteers identified 3,900 loggerhead nests and 305 green sea turtle nests on Manasota Key.
The local sea turtle nesting extends from May 1 to Oct. 31. And while the crest of the nesting season has passed, now is when many of the hatchlings emerge from their nests and head for the water.
According wildlife researchers, female sea turtles lay 110 eggs per nest and will lay an average of two to eight nests per season. The hatchlings, emerging from their nests, can be easily disorientated by artificial lights. Hatchlings instinctively head off the beach toward the horizon of the Gulf where the natural light is the brightest even on moonless nights.
Because artificial light can easily distract the newly hatched turtles and cause them to head in the wrong direction, both Charlotte and Sarasota counties enacted sea turtle protection ordinances during the nesting season that include provisions calling for lights to be turned off or shielded from shining out onto the Gulf beaches.
“Over the years, on Manasota Key, severe disorientations are down, those with hatchlings pouring onto the roads,” said Wilma Katz, who with Zoe Bass is a state permit holder overseeing CWC sea turtle patrols on Manasota Key.
But that doesn’t mean disorientations haven’t been seen on Manasota Key. Charlotte County reported disorientated sea turtle hatchlings in the parking lot of the White Elephant Pub, across from the south end of the public Englewood Beach.
Individual light sources aren’t the only man-made causes for disorientations.
“The problem now is sky glow (to the north and south of Manasota Key), causing the hatchlings to crawl hundreds of yards along the beach before gradually entering the water,” Katz said.